Thursday, March 07, 2019

Nickelodeon Embarks on New Direction with its Biggest, Most Wide-Ranging Content Slate Ever | Nick Upfront 2019

Original Nickelodeon USA Press Release | Share the news: http://po.st/Nick2019

NICKELODEON EMBARKS ON NEW DIRECTION WITH ITS BIGGEST,
MOST WIDE-RANGING CONTENT SLATE EVER

NEW SHOWS ARE “ALL THAT” AND MUCH MORE

Nick’s Iconic All That Sketch-Comedy Series to Return with New Cast of Kids
Alongside Original Cast Members; Kenan Thompson Set to Executive Produce

School’s Back in Session with Reimagined Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader
from MGM Television, Hosted and Executive Produced by John Cena

Brand-New Unboxing Adventure Series, Ryan’s Mystery Playdate,
Stars YouTube Sensation Ryan of Ryan ToysReview

America’s Most Musical Family (Working Title) Seeks to Crown
Best Family Act Through Nationwide Search and Competition

Multigenerational Animated Comedy Series The Casagrandes Bows This Fall

Simon Fuller and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder to Produce Music-Based Series
Featuring New, Original Songs in Every Episode

Nick Developing Spin-Off Projects for SpongeBob SquarePants’ Characters for First Time Ever

New Shows Also Include Two New Titles Produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation, and the Acquisition of Paddington (Working Title) and LEGO® CITY


BURBANK, Calif.–Feb. 14, 2019–Nickelodeon is unveiling a new content slate created for today’s kids who are multicultural, family-focused, and in control of their entertainment choices across platforms. With a foundation of supercharging its globally powerful original franchises like SpongeBob SquarePants, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and PAW Patrol, and welcoming new, acquired properties into its ecosystem, Nickelodeon’s new slate represents a renewing of its commitment to serve all kids, through a multicultural lens; bringing in talent kids love from other platforms and formats; and opening up its demo to capture kid and parent co-viewing, to satisfy this generation’s demand for shared family time.

The slate, announced today by Nickelodeon President Brian Robbins, was put into development in October at the beginning of Robbins’ tenure and will begin to debut on Nick’s platforms this summer.

“We have a laser focus on who kids are today, and what they want, so we are making a wider variety of shows and series for them, and we’re working with brand-new kinds of talent and producers,” said Robbins. “We have a new creative team in place and a renewed energy that we’re harnessing to bring the buzz back to Nick.”

Nick’s new direction was developed against the network’s defining research insights into today’s kids, who: are the most diverse generation ever, with the fastest growing segment being Hispanics; who cite shared experiences with their parents and family as their top priority; and who are in near-total control of their entertainment choices, enabled by any one of the 12 connected devices found in today’s average household.

Added Robbins: “Kids today are their own programmers, so we have been working very fast to transfer our expertise as television content makers to all the new places and platforms kids are going to,” said Robbins. “Our vision for a new Nickelodeon is to fill up every screen, of every size, to make an impact on as many consumers as we can and to be at the forefront of conversation for today’s kids and families.”

Highlights of the new slate include: the return of Nick’s iconic All That sketch-comedy series, showcasing a whole new set of kids alongside members of the original cast, with Kenan Thompson serving as an executive producer; a reimagined version of Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader, hosted by John Cena; an all-new unboxing adventure series starring Ryan of Ryan ToysReview, titled Ryan’s Mystery Playdate; America’s Most Musical Family (working title), a nationwide search and competition to crown the next big family musical act; The Casagrandes, the animated spinoff from The Loud House, featuring a multigenerational Mexican-American family; an untitled scripted music-based series set in a boarding school for the performing arts, produced by Simon Fuller and OneRepublic’s Ryan Tedder, and featuring original songs and performances in every episode; and ideas in development to spin off the characters from SpongeBob SquarePants into their own stand-alone series, specials and feature-length movies.

Robbins continued: “Everything we’re making will have different formats, for all platforms, so we can travel the audience back and forth from one to the other, while being home base for all the shows, the biggest franchises, the characters and talent they love.”

Details of Nickelodeon’s New Content Slate:

Today’s kids represent the most diverse generation ever. Joining Nick’s diverse programming slate is content to super-serve Hispanic viewers, including:

  • The Casagrandes – Premiering in October, this companion to the animated hit The Loud House follows 11-year-old Ronnie Anne after she moves to the city with her older brother Bobby and her mom, where they now live with their big, loving and chaotic multigenerational Mexican-American family, the Casagrandes.
  • Santiago of the Seas (formerly The Swashbuckling Adventures of Capitán Calavera) This interactive animated series follows the adventures of 8-year-old Santiago Montes, a brave and kind-hearted pirate, and features a Spanish-language and Latino-Caribbean culture curriculum.
  • The Dora the Explorer Theatrical Release Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players and Nickelodeon Movies present in association with Walden Media the Dora the Explorer live-action movie, opening in theatres this August. Having spent most of her life exploring the jungle with her parents, nothing could prepare Dora (Isabela Moner) for her most dangerous adventure ever–high school. Always the explorer, Dora quickly finds herself leading Boots (her best friend, a monkey), Diego (Jeffrey Wahlberg), a mysterious jungle inhabitant (Eugenio Derbez), and a ragtag group of teens on a live-action adventure to save her parents (Eva Longoria, Michael Peña) and solve the impossible mystery behind a lost Inca civilization.

Nickelodeon is working with talent kids love from other platforms, while also creating content featuring their favorite formats and genres.

  • Ryan’s Mystery Playdate Created and produced by pocket.watch, this brand-new live-action preschool series follows YouTube superstar Ryan, of Ryan ToysReview, his parents and animated friends Gus the Gummy Gator and Combo Panda as they work together to tackle a series of imaginative, physical challenges and unbox puzzles to reveal the identity of his mystery playdate.
  • Simon Fuller/Ryan Tedder-Produced Untitled Project – A scripted music series set in a boarding performing arts high school, with original music in every episode. A nationwide search will be conducted to cast the show. Simon Fuller is a legendary, multi-hyphenate creator, producer and manager behind iconic franchises such as the global Idol phenomenon and Spice Girls. Grammy Award-winning Ryan Tedder is the frontman of OneRepublic and writer behind countless hit songs from artists ranging from Beyoncé and Adele, to Camila Cabello, Ed Sheeran and Kelly Clarkson, among others.

Nick’s insights reveal that family time is the most important passion point for kids and parents today, with their top priority being to spend time together and look for opportunities through shared experiences. Today’s families state that watching TV together is their favorite activity, corresponding to the current 10-year high in co-viewing, where 44% of kids’ viewing is with an adult. To capture co-viewing opportunities, Nick is producing shows with built-in appeal to every family member, including:

  • Are You Smarter Than A 5th Grader The iconic family game show will return with all-new episodes hosted by John Cena, who will also serve as an executive producer. Mark Burnett, Chairman of Worldwide Television, MGM (Survivor, The Voice) and Barry Poznick, President, Unscripted Television, MGM (Beat Shazam, The World's Best) will return as executive producers of the reboot, which places kids squarely in the center of the action. The series is slated to premiere this year.
  • The Substitute In this new hidden camera prank show, celebrities are transformed by a team of special effects artists to go undercover as substitute teachers to surprise a class of unsuspecting students. A $25,000 donation will be made to each school. The Substitute is produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation, and Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman (Undercover Boss), with Mike Harney serving as showrunner.
  • America’s Most Musical Family (working title) This brand-new competition series, produced by The Intellectual Property Corporation, and Eli Holzman and Aaron Saidman (So You Think You Can Dance), follows the nationwide search for the most talented family in America.
  • Are You Afraid of the Dark? The beloved anthology series will return this October as a brand-new miniseries and follow new members of the Midnight Society as they gather around a campfire in the woods to share scary stories. The miniseries will coincide with the upcoming Are You Afraid of the Dark? theatrical movie from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players’ and Nickelodeon Movies, in theaters October 2019.
  • All That Pop-culture phenomenon All That is returning for a new generation of kids. The new weekly sketch-comedy series will showcase an all-new cast of kids, with cast members through the years making special appearances during the season. Kenan Thompson (Saturday Night Live) and Kevin Kay (All That, SpongeBob SquarePants, Lip Sync Battle, Lip Sync Battle Shorties, Yellowstone) will executive produce, with comedian Jermaine Fowler (Super Donuts, Sorry to Bother You) serving as consulting producer on the series slated to premiere this summer.

Nickelodeon is home to some of the biggest franchises kids love, and the network is taking steps to increase these properties’ reach and grow their footprint, as well as welcome in new franchises, to ensure Nick is the top destination for everything kids want:

  • SpongeBob SquarePants – Nick is commemorating the 20th anniversary with the “Best Year Ever,” a tribute that includes an original one-hour special, “SpongeBob’s Big Birthday Blowout,” premiering Friday, July 12. Additionally, plans are in place to expand the SpongeBob SquarePants universe with spinoffs focused on the core characters into formats such as new series, specials and feature-length movies. The anniversary will culminate with the May 22, 2020 release of the new SpongeBob theatrical, It’s A Wonderful Sponge, from Paramount Pictures, Paramount Players’ and Nickelodeon Movies.
  • Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Season two of the 2D-animated series will premiere this fall, and follow the Turtles as they continue to hone their ninja skills, uncover new, powerful weapons and encounter a world beneath the streets of New York City. The franchise is also being expanded with an original, feature-length animated movie being produced by Nickelodeon Studios for Netflix.
  • Blue’s Clues & You! – This remake of the groundbreaking, curriculum-driven interactive series Blue’s Clues brings back beloved puppy Blue for an all-new generation of preschoolers. Premiering in November, the series features all-new CG animation, updates to favorite characters and stars Broadway actor Joshua Dela Cruz as the new live-action host.
  • Paddington (working title) – Actor Ben Whishaw (Paddington 1 & 2) will reprise his role as the beloved voice of the title character in the new CG-animated series, which follows a younger Paddington and his adventures in London with the Brown family and their friends. Paddington is a Heyday Films and STUDIOCANAL production in association with Copyrights, helmed by Adam Shaw of Blue Zoo (Go Jetters, Digby Dragon, Miffy, Q Pootle 5), and developed for television and written by Jon Foster and James Lamont (The Amazing World of Gumball, Cuckoo, Paddington 1 & 2). The series will be produced by multi-award-winning David Heyman (producer of all eight Harry Potter films, Gravity, Paddington 1 & 2), Karen Davidsen (formerly with Disney and HIT Entertainment) and Simon Quinn (Isle of Dogs, Fantastic Mr. Fox). Paddington is executive produced by Rosie Alison (Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, Paddington 1 & 2) and co-produced by Rob Silva.
  • LEGO® CITY – The all-new high-stakes CG-animated comedy, created and produced by LEGO Group, depicts the funny, smart, and dynamic slices of life within the sprawling and diverse LEGO CITY community. Set to debut this year, the series follows the intertwining paths of the city's everyday heroes as they work together to stop a mysterious master criminal who begins to wreak havoc on their town.

Nickelodeon, now in its 39th year, is the number-one entertainment brand for kids. It has built a diverse, global business by putting kids first in everything it does. The company includes television programming and production in the United States and around the world, plus consumer products, digital, recreation, books and feature films. Nickelodeon’s U.S. television network is seen in more than 90 million households and has been the number-one-rated kids’ basic cable network for 22 consecutive years. For more information or artwork, visit http://www.nickpress.com. Nickelodeon and all related titles, characters and logos are trademarks of Viacom Inc. (NASDAQ: VIA, VIAB).

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Key Artwork:


Also, from Variety:

‘SpongeBob’ Spinoffs Planned as Nickelodeon Chief Brian Robbins Tries to Win Back Young Viewers

In an era when young TV viewers are increasingly abandoning the traditional TV screen, Brian Robbins wants to make it very difficult for kids to give up on Nickelodeon.

The veteran producer who was named Nickelodeon’s president in October hasn’t spent his first months in the role noodling over the formula for the network’s famous green slime. He’s been working to fill its programming pipeline with new shows, even as he and other executives realize Nickelodeon’s target audience is more likely to be watching video on YouTube and Netflix via smartphones as they are to watch the TV set in the family room.

Robbins’ goal — simple to state but hard to achieve — is to make hit shows that viewers will seek out on any screen.

“There are definitely headwinds, and for all of linear television. In many ways, the kids’ business has been more affected by it,’” Robbins told Variety, pointing to young viewers’ quick adoption of streaming and mobile devices in recent years. Still, he notes, “if you make content and shows that kids want to watch, they will show up for it.”

The Viacom-owned cabler is ready to take some big swings after a long ratings slump. Nickelodeon’s fortunes are central to the earnings of the parent company, which makes Robbins’ mission of rehabilitating the brand that much more urgent.

Among the new properties heading to Nickelodeon is the first-ever spin-offs of characters from its mainstay animated series “SpongeBob SquarePants.” Nickelodeon has acquired the rights to develop series featuring Paddington, the popular British bear, and characters from the recent spate of Lego movies. There are some revivals of Nick favorites in the works as well – and new moves to make Nickelodeon content available on platforms that kids like to watch.

Robbins unveils his first Nickelodeon programming slate just as the TV industry is looking to the start of its annual “upfront” derby, when U.S. TV networks try to sell the bulk of their ad inventory for the coming season. Kid-focused networks have suffered in recent months: Nickelodeon — which still boasts a larger total audience than its primary linear competitors, WarnerMedia’s Cartoon Network and Disney Channel — saw its audience between 2 and 11 years of age decline 24% in the fourth quarter compared to the year-earlier period. Cartoon Network’s audience in that age range was down 37% in that time period, while Disney Channel’s was off 30%.

Robbins brings with him, however, a long history with Nickelodeon programming. He was a co-creator and producer of the channel’s popular sketch program, “All That” and its many spin offs, as well as series on other networks, such as the WB/CW dramas “Smallville” and “One Tree Hill. More recently, Robbins founded AwesomenessTV, the teen-focused content factory that was acquired by Viacom in 2017.

Millions of dollars are at stake for Nickelodeon as upfront season begins. Nickelodeon nabbed approximately $729 million in advertising revenue in 2018, according to Kagan, a market-research firm that is part of S&P Global Intelligence. The Nickelodeon empire, which also includes Nick Jr. and other cable networks is the largest division of parent company Viacom and thus its performance is highly scrutinized by investors.

“Brian Robbins is a terrific executive who, thanks to his work at Awesomeness, understands the psyche of his audience,” said Michael Nathanson, a media-industry analyst with the firm MoffettNathanson. “But his challenge on the linear side is quite large.”

Robbins realizes Nickelodeon must make changes that acknowledge the big changes in its audience’s viewing habits.

”The cable model was a rinse-and-repeat model. Today we live in a binge-viewing world. Give me a fresh show. Give me another fresh show. I want to watch it, eat it up and go on to the next show,” Robbins said. “What used to be OK was having one or two hits, then making a zillion episodes of them, and then repeating them. That was enough to satisfy the kid audience because they didn’t have choice. I think today we need to make a volume of quality franchises, but not necessarily feed a million episodes of those shows. We need to keep a constant number of new shows coming, and not necessarily make one show with 80 episodes.”

He plans to bring new talent to the network from some of the venues that have lured young viewers elsewhere. “Ryan’s Mystery Playdate,” for example, is a live-action series that follows Ryan, the kid star of the “Ryan ToysReview” on YouTube, along with his parents and some animated pals. The series features its players working through physical challenges as well as puzzles to reveal the mystery in the title. “Playdate” is slated to debut in the spring.

And he’s hoping to lure kids with some star power. WWE’s John Cena will host new episodes of game show “Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader.” Producer Simon Fuller and OneRepublic singer Ryan Tedder will produce a scripted music series set in a boarding performing arts high school, with all-new music and performances in each episode. The Lego series, “Lego City,” is a CG-animated comedy that follows many characters as they seek to stop a master criminal. “Paddington,” featuring actor Ben Whishaw as the voice of the title bruin, follows the famous bear through adventures in London.

Some franchises are being readied for new venues. Nickelodeon already unveiled a deal to make movies featuring “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “The Loud House” characters for Netflix. A live-action “Dora The Explorer” movie is slated for release in August, with Isabela Moner in the title role and Benicio Del Toro as her nemesis, Swiper. “We know that linear television is the most important thing to us, but beyond that, the idea is to fill up every screen of every size,” said Robbins.

Robbins is eager to broaden Nickelodeon’s slate of shows that kids and parents watch together, to deliver the co-viewing demographic that is prized by some advertisers. One such entry is “The Substitute,” a hidden-camera prank show that has celebrities go undercover as substitute teachers; a $25,000 donation will be made to the school hosting each new episode. “America’s Most Musical Family” will mount a nationwide search for the most talented family in America. And Nickelodeon intends to revive “Are You Afraid of the Dark,” the anthology series that boasts scary stories, as a new miniseries that will coincide with a movie based on the show slated for Oct. 20.

Robbins also aims to bring more diversity to Nickelodeon’s air. “Santiago of the Seas” is an interactive series slated for 2020 that follows the adventures of a kind-hearted, 8-year-old pirate, and features a Spanish-language and Latino-Caribbean culture curriculum. “The Casagrandes” is a companion series to “The Loud House,” and focuses on a chaotic multi-generational family.

The decision to broaden “SpongeBob” may be Robbins’ most surprising move. The series has been a staple of Nickelodeon since 1999, which means it has multiple generations of fans to reach.

“That’s our Marvel Universe,” Robbins said. “You have this amazing show that’s run for almost twenty years.”

While he pledged that Nickelodeon will always make “SpongeBob,” Robbins sees ample room to explore other characters. Among the options on the table are to “tell an original story about SpongeBob and Patrick, or maybe tell a Sandy Cheeks stand-alone story, or can Plankton have his own?” Robbins mused. “I think the fans are clamoring for it.”

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From Adweek:

Why Nickelodeon Did Away With Its Usual Upfront Kickoff Event This Year

Network opted for 'intimate' meetings where new chief Brian Robbins could share his vision


Last year's splashy upfront event featured celebs like John Cena, but Nickelodeon is opting for smaller meetings going forward. - Getty Images

One year ago today, Nickelodeon held its upfront presentation, which has long served as the unofficial kickoff to the annual upfront season. But this year, the network isn’t holding its usual big upfront event. Instead, it’s following in the footsteps of its Viacom sibling networks—and many others through the industry—and swapping spectacle for smaller agency meetings.

The changes come as Nickelodeon enters the upfront with a new leader for the first time in 13 years: Brian Robbins, who came on in October following the June exit of longtime Nickelodeon Group president Cyma Zarghami.

Instead of its traditional upfront event—last year’s presentation included appearances by John Cena, JoJo Siwa, Nick Cannon and the cast of the SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical—Robbins and Sean Moran, Viacom’s head of marketing and partner solutions, opted for a new approach this year.

Nickelodeon kicked off its upfront business at last month’s Toy Fair in New York, announcing its new programming slate at a presentation for toy clients. Over the next two weeks, it held two additional meetings in the Viacom building for agencies and holding companies, during which Robbins shared his new vision for the network and Moran made his upfront pitch. Robbins will then represent Nickelodeon alongside the other Viacom programming chiefs next month at the company’s upfront agency dinners, which Moran has been holding since 2017.

During those client and agency meetings, attendees “got a real sense for where we’re going, for the enormity of Brian’s vision and how we’re trying to make the complexity of reaching kids and family something that Nickelodeon can provide as a one-stop shop,” said Moran.

This year’s upfront changeup speaks to the team’s new mentality, “which is making sure that people see us as a solutions provider,” said Moran. “We’re making it more tailored and intimate to them so that we really think about their needs going forward.”

Viacom, which held five lavish upfront presentations as recently as 2016 for its various networks, scrapped most of those events two years ago in favor of smaller agency dinners. BET held an event in 2017 before it also made the switch, leaving Nickelodeon as the company’s last upfront event in 2018.

“At Nickelodeon, we can bring people to the most connected influencer, and that influencer is going to have the ability to connect clients online as well as on-air.” —Sean Moran, Viacom’s head of marketing and partner solutions

As Moran trimmed those presentations under his watch, he held onto the Nickelodeon event, in part because of the efforts to push the network’s brands and IP into other platforms, like Broadway. So last year’s Nickelodeon upfront was held at New York’s Palace Theatre, the home of SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical. Had that opportunity not been available last year, “you would have seen me make this change a little sooner,” said Moran.

During last year’s upfront, Zarghami, then president of Nickelodeon Group, talked about the year’s theme of “reinvention.” She didn’t realize at the time how extensive that reinvention would be: three months later, Zarghami was out, exiting the company after three decades. In October, Nickelodeon tapped Robbins to replace her.

SpongeBob SquarePants: The Broadway Musical, which Zarghami said was central to the company’s “reinvention” plans, is also no more, as it closed in September without recouping its $18 million cost.

So it’s no surprise that Nickelodeon wanted to turn the page for its first upfront under Robbins, who began his career as an actor before becoming a producer and director of several ’90s Nickelodeon shows and later founding AwesomenessTV.

“We really wanted that intimate setting where folks could get a true sense of Brian Robbins’ vision and who he was as a person. We didn’t think that could come across the same way in a big theatrical performance where he just does an intro or an outro,” said Moran.

Revivals and spinoffs

Nickelodeon declined to make Robbins available to discuss his new vision and his upfront message to advertisers, but in those meetings last month, he pushed the network’s new content slate. This includes a revival of sketch comedy series All That, which was co-created by Robbins back in 1994 and ran for 10 seasons, to be executive produced by Kenan Thompson, who starred in the original.

The network is also rebooting the game show Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?, which originally ran on Fox and will now be hosted and executive produced by John Cena. Its Blue’s Clues revival, which was announced at last year’s upfront and is called Blue’s Clues & You!, will premiere in November.

Other new shows include a music competition series to find America’s most musical family, a Lego City animated series and a Paddington animated series with Ben Whishaw voicing the titular bear, as he did in the two recent live-action Paddington movies.

Also, as SpongeBob SquarePants celebrates its 20th anniversary this year, Nickelodeon is developing spinoffs based on the show’s characters that could end up as new series, specials and movies.

“He sees it as our Marvel,” said Moran about Robbins’ SpongeBob plans, “to be able to have so many successful franchises come off what has been the most successful franchise for kids programming ever.”

During those upfront meetings, Moran touted Nickelodeon’s ability to deliver not only kids audiences, but co-viewing via families with shows like Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader?

“The highest co-viewing level of any genre is kids programming,” said Moran, noting that last year, 44 percent of kids’ TV viewing occurred with an adult, which he said was the highest number in 10 years. For Hispanic families, the co-viewing number is “closer to 50 percent.”

And those adults “aren’t just in the room, but they are paying attention,” said Moran. Viacom conducted a study with TVision that found that “adults are 61 percent more attentive when watching TV as a family. They pay 77 percent more attention to commercials and are more likely to recall the products advertised.”

This year’s co-viewing push is one way Moran is trying to reposition the network as the entire kids TV category has struggled with steep linear ratings drops.

“We’re surrounding the viewer no matter where they are, so certainly Brian is very excited to be pushing into other platforms and working with talent in new ways that are surrounding that platform,” said Moran. He also noted that Nickelodeon’s share of kids TV is at 46 percent of kids 2–11, up four points from a year ago, and is continuing to grow. “Our clients can’t lose sight of that,” even with the migration to other platforms, said Moran.

During this upfront, Moran is also pushing Nickelodeon’s relationships with influencers, spanning everyone from DJ Khaled, who is hosting the Kids Choice Awards on March 23, to 8-year-old YouTube superstar Ryan, of Ryan ToysReview, who will star in the new series Ryan’s Mystery Playdate.

“At Nickelodeon, we can bring people to the most connected influencer, and that influencer is going to have the ability to connect clients online as well as on-air,” said Moran. “And where Brian’s taking even the linear formats, making sure we have the No. 1 franchises [like SpongeBob and Lego], really brings an energy and a reach to a place where I think we’re going to be affecting business results for clients in a way we’ve never been able to before.”

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Originally published: Thursday, February 14, 2019 at 4:22pm GMT.
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