Cartoon Network US announces a new broadband venture

MUMBAI: US kids broadcaster Cartoon Network and Viz Media have announced a joint venture called Toonami Jetstream.

The broadband service which launches on 17 July 2006 will provide on-demand, full-length streaming episodes of a number of hit animé and action series, including acclaimed hit series Naruto and Samurai Jack. In addition, users will also be able to watch full-length episodes of series like Hikaru No Go, Mar and The Prince of Tennis that are not currently offered on US broadcast or basic cable television.

Cartoon Network and Viz Media will jointly manage and administer acquisitions and programming. Each week, new episodes will be added to the site while previous episodes will also be available through the Toonami Jetstream archive. Toonami Jetstream, an online extension of Cartoon Network's long-running and successful Toonami action-adventure television franchise, is a free service, supported by advertising that includes both banners and streaming video ads.

Cartoon Network senior VP, GM new media Paul Condolora says, "Cartoon Network has long been the dominant TV provider of the best animé and action. And we were the first to stream, in 2001, full-length animé series online. Now, with this joint venture with Viz Media, we will give our fans the chance to view popular shows on-demand and follow new series that cannot be seen anywhere else.

"We also believe that this will bring new fans to the action/animé genre, create interest in new shows and build the overall popularity of Toonami on Cartoon Network."

Viz Media executive VP John Easum says, "Toonami Jetstream will provide our current fans and new fans alike with unlimited opportunities to view our popular hit shows such as Naruto. It will also give us the opportunity to share with our fans an unprecedented variety of Japan's newest and most exciting animated series. We are thrilled to be expanding our strong relationship with Cartoon Network. Viz Media is one of the industry's leading licensors of Japanese animation and Cartoon Network is the preeminent broadcaster of Japanese animation and we believe that our collective forces will make Toonami Jetstream the online destination of choice for action-adventure animation fans."

Five series are currently slated for the July launch of Toonami Jetstream. In Naruto, an evil Nine-Tailed-Fox demon that terrorised The Hidden Leaf Village was sealed inside the body of a baby in order to end the decimation of the village. A rule that forbade anyone to tell him that he possessed the spirit of the Nine-Tailed-Fox left Naruto unaware of why the villagers shunned him. Now a teenager, he attempts to earn the villagers' respect by training to become the village's top ninja.

As Naruto develops his skills, he must learn to control his special powers to become the respected master ninja. Through exciting adventures, the young ninja learns the importance of friendship, teamwork, loyalty, hard work, creativity, ingenuity and right versus wrong.

Samurai Jack which is one of Cartoon Networks most popular shows encounters an array of cultures and civilisations as he travels the world seeking the portal to send him back to his own time. A man of few words, Jack relies on his mental and physical training as a warrior to help him fend off the evil wizard's forces.

Hikaru No Go tells the story of Hikaru Shindo, a young student who stumbles across a dusty old Go board while exploring his grandfather's attic. Trapped inside is Fujiwara-no-Sai, the ghost of an ancient Go master that enters Hikaru's consciousness, allowing him to communicate with the spirit. Sai, newly awakened, wishes for nothing more than to play Go again. Urged on by Sai, Hikaru reluctantly begins playing Go. As he begins to appreciate the complexities of the game, Hikaru makes it his quest to become the ultimate Go champion.

Mar features Ginta, an average 14-year-old boy, until a mysterious portal suddenly transports him into the fairy tale realm he envisions in his dreams, the World of MÄR. In MÄR, Ginta acquires super human strength and Babbo- a talking magical weapon knows as an ARM. Together, Ginta and Babbo embark on a quest to save the World of MÄR from total domination by the evil chess pieces.

In The Prince of Tennis the backdrop of middle school tennis serves as the setting for this sports drama and coming-of-age story. The Prince of Tennis, created by Takeshi Konomi, depicts the on-and off-the-court adventures of Ryoma Echizen, who joins the Seishun Academy tennis team, known for being one of the most competitive teams in Japan. With his undeniable talent (and sometimes shamelessly cocky attitude), Ryoma is ready to lead his team to victory.

Viz Media works in the field of manga (graphic novel) publishing, animation and entertainment licensing of Japanese content.

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