NEW YORK -- Nickelodeon, the number-one entertainment brand for kids, and the National Football League, the most popular sports league among kids, are entering into their first production partnership to create the new, original animated short-form series, "Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core" for Nicktoons. The 22-episode series based on the NFLRUSH ZONE, the NFL's online world for kids, is comprised of two-to-five minute shorts featuring an unexpected new hero, all 32 NFL teams and the voices of NFL players and coaches as themselves, such as coach Sean Payton, who led the New Orleans Saints to victory in Super Bowl XLIV, and New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.
The series will air weekly to coincide with the 2010 NFL season from September through February and will culminate with a one-hour movie special to air the day before Super Bowl XLV. The series also will be available on Nicktoons.com and NFLRUSH.com, the NFL's official website for kids, following its premiere on Nicktoons. Additionally, the series is being created in high definition for use on Jumbotrons in NFL stadiums across the country.
"It is great to be partnering with the NFL," said Keith Dawkins, Nicktoons general manager, senior vice president, Nickelodeon Programming Partnerships. "To be able to bring the power of two brands that boys love, the NFL and Nickelodeon, together under one roof and leverage the best of what we both do is extremely exciting. This new series combines fantasy, sports, game play, team work, competition and the age old theme of good vs. evil, under one compelling new narrative."
"We are pleased to expand our relationship with Nickelodeon and to bring the NFL to life in a fantastical, exciting animated series," said Peter O'Reilly, NFL vice president of fan strategy & marketing. "Millions of children have discovered the fun of the NFLRUSH ZONE online world in the past two years, and this new series is a great way of bringing the RUSH ZONE to an even wider audience every week during the NFL season."
"Rush Zone: Guardians of the Core" follows Ishmael, a 10-year old boy who was just an ordinary kid until learning that all 32 NFL stadiums also serve as secret strongholds of an otherworldly benevolent life force that he has been chosen to guard. That life force, once the core of a far-off peaceful planet, has been broken into pieces, or shards, which are hidden in every NFL stadium around the country. An evil villain known as Sudden Death is determined to find the shards, reassemble them and end humanity. To stop Sudden Death, Ish is given the physical abilities of an NFL football player (and a few additional super powers) to battle on and off the gridiron. He must work with the Rusherz, the NFL superheroes representing all 32 teams, to stop the Blitz Botz, robots controlled by Sudden Death. Taught by his mentor, O.T. and guided by NFL players and coaches, Ish learns exactly what it takes to be a true hero.
Nicktoons is pacing to have its highest-rated quarter ever with its target demos of boys 6-11 and boys 9-14, as well as among all tweens 9-14 and total viewers. For the second quarter to date, Nicktoons is posting double-digit increases of 17 percent with boys 6-11 and 20 percent with boys 9-14. With overall kids 2-11, the network is up double digits ( 25 percent), up 33 percent with tweens 9-14 and up 15 percent among total viewers. (Source: NMR, Live 7, 3/29/10 - 6/13/10, Live Same Day 6/14/10 - 6/20/10.) Nicktoons is the number-one fastest growing kids network with kids 6-11, boys 6-11, tweens 9-14 and boys 9-14. (Source: Nielsen Media Research, 3/29/10-6/20/10 vs. 3/30/09-6/21/09, MSU 6a-6a, Live 7 Day data through 6/6/10, Live Same Day data through 6/20/10.)
The NFLRUSH ZONE, a role playing game on NFLRUSH.com, was launched in December 2007 and today has more than 2 million registered users. The NFLRUSH ZONE is an immersive virtual world where kids are able to create avatars, join their favorite team, play games, chat, and compete with friends in a safe and fun environment. All 32 teams are represented within the NFLRUSH ZONE with distinct team lands and team Rusherz and Avatars.
Nicktoons is the fastest growing kids' network and offers programming such as "Dragon Ball Z Kai," "Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Heroes," "Iron Man: Armored Adventures," "Wolverine," and "The X-Men" and "Speed Racer: The Next Generation," as well as a roster of hits that have defined kids' and animation lovers' TV, including "Avatar: The Last Airbender," "Invader Zim," "Danny Phantom," "SpongeBob SquarePants," "The Fairly OddParents," and "The Adventures of Jimmy Neutron," "Boy Genius." Nicktoons currently reaches 57 million homes via cable, digital cable and satellite, and can be seen on Cablevision, Charter Communications, Comcast Cable, Cox Communications, DirecTV, DISH Network and Time Warner Cable.