Mediaweek
Web

recent headlines


SAVE | EMAIL | PRINT | MOST POPULAR | RSS | REPRINTS

Nickelodeon Launches Nicktropolis Web Playground



Mike Shields

JANUARY 29, 2007 -

Nickelodeon has taken a bold step into the burgeoning virtual-worlds arena with the launch of Nicktropolis, a personalizable, avatar-dwelling playground for kids on the Web.

Nicktropolis, which goes live on Nick.com and Nicktropolis.com on Jan. 30, is sort of a Second Life for tweens: Kids can create a virtual identity for themselves – a 3D video game-like character which they create, picking out what color hair it has and what kind of clothes it wears, for example. Then kids can take that avatar to visit various virtual locales within Nicktropolis, such as stores, friends’ rooms, amusement parks and even virtual versions of top Nickelodeon shows, like SpongeBob’s Bikini Bottom.

Initially, Nicktropolis consists of four distinct areas: Nickname Lane, where kids maintain their own rooms with virtual possessions; Nicktoon Boulevard, an immersive area featuring the network’s characters; Downtown Nicktropolis, which houses a park and several stores; and The Pier, a gaming-focused region.

Besides spending their time exploring, Nicktropolis offers a variety of multimedia options for its intended nine- to 14-year-old audience. They can listen to Nick.com radio stations, play numerous games and watch videos – either in a Rec Room located in Downtown Nicktropolis on virtual TVs they have purchased using points, which serve as the virtual world’s currency.

But perhaps the primary appeal of Nicktropolis - and its potentially most controversial option - is chat. Kids can interact with other avatars either using a series of Nick-supplied phrases or their own words, as long as they fall within a Nick-safe dictionary. To stave off predatory fears, in a presentation to reporters on Jan. 29 Nickelodeon executives placed heavy emphasis on Nicktropolis’ various safety features. “We believe it is as safe as we can possibly make it for kids,” said Cyma Zarghami, president, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. For example, kids are encouraged to use nicknames (not their real names) when registering for the sites.

And to participate in Nicktropolis, kids have to supply their parents' email addresses, through which parents must provide their approval to allow kids to chat and pursue other activities. Plus, several persistent buttons on the Nicktropolis’ interface allow users to report any potential safety hazards, such as uncomfortable interactions with other avatars.

Marketing-wise, Nicktropolis is launching without advertising, though execs said that sponsorships are coming soon. “Right now we’re having an open dialogue with marketers,” said Steve Youngwood, executive vp, digital media, Nickelodeon and MTVN Kids and Family Group. According to Nick.com vp Jason Root, the site is likely to sign on a presenting sponsor of some sort but would shy away more “immersive” ad inventory that might detract from Nicktropolis’ fantasy world.

Executives said that prior to its launch, close to 300,000 kids will have tested Nicktropolis, which has been in development for over a year. While the new site isn't’ MTVN’s first foray into virtual worlds (MTV has launched Virtual Laguna Beach), it is certainly its most extensive launch to date of this kind. In the kids space, Nicktropolis will be aiming at Disney’s kids aimed virtual game Toontown, and possibly Cartoon Network’s coming Massively Multiplayer Online Game (MMOG), due in 2008.


SAVE | EMAIL | PRINT | MOST POPULAR | RSS | REPRINTS
SUBSCRIBE TO MEDIAWEEK »



Digital Hot List
Social networking. Video sharing. Music downloads. Celebrity gossip. The hottest trends on the Web owe much to the indomitable sites on our third annual Adweek Media Digital Hot List. Those selected have generated explosive growth in closely watched metrics even as they make headlines for technological innovation, mega ad pacts and buzzworthy content.
more

NETWORK TV / SYNDICATION
ABC to Issue Cavetalk Podcast Series
ABC, TV Guide to Do Grey's Gown Giveaway
Guthrie Joins NBC News
CABLE TELEVISION
Fox Business News Staffs Up
Samples Finds New Home at HGTV
Analog, Digital a Must for Cable
DIGITAL MEDIA
WeatherBug, Verizon Sign Content Deal
Journal Broadcast Launches ONow.com
CineSport to Roll Out MLB Video Highlight Reel
MAGAZINES / NEWSPAPERS
Lagana Exits Alpha Media
Black Women's Titles Continue Mainstream Struggle
WSJ Creates New Integrated Sales, Marketing Team
TV / RADIO STATIONS / OUTDOOR
LIN TV, MetroCast Hit Retrans Wall in Conn.
Local Broadcast TV Q2 Revenue Dips 6.6%
Reinbach Jumps to Petry
MEDIA AGENCIES/RESEARCH
IAGR's Gould Named President
Local Web Ad Biz Needs Organization, Scale
Flaxman Joins Initiative N.A.
 



This content requires the Macromedia Flash Player.


Get Flash

Latest Headlines:
Get Ahead of Your Competition
State of the "Art" Convention Centers


© 2007 Nielsen Business Media, Inc. All rights reserved. Terms of Use  |  Privacy Policy