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MTV acquires virtual critter site NeoPets

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MTV Networks, a unit of Viacom International, has acquired online youth community NeoPets, the companies announced Monday.

MTV, which also owns runs Nickelodeon and Nick.com, said the addition of NeoPets.com to its portfolio will boost its presence in the online entertainment segment for children and young adults.

NeoPets is an online network that lets members create and care for "virtual pets" that inhabit a mythical place dubbed Neopia. Nearly 25 million people globally have Neopets accounts, the company said.

NeoPets CEO Doug C. Dohring and other executives will continue in their positions and manage the company from Glendale, Calif., where it is based. Dohring will report to Jeffrey Dunn, president of Nickelodeon Film and Enterprises. Financial details of the deal were not announced.

Nearly 60 percent of the NeoPets audience is over age 13, which fits well with the profile of many MTV brands, MTV said. With 50 original characters, the portal offers business opportunities in feature film animation.

"NeoPets users are passionate about the site and its unique offerings, and that is exactly the kind of connection with audiences that MTV Networks cultivates and values," Judy McGrath, CEO of MTV, said in a statement. "Its acquisition is an important move for us as we aggressively move forward as a multi-platform entertainment company."

NeoPets.com generates 5 billion page views per month and is available in English, Japanese, traditional and simplified Chinese, Korean, Spanish, French, German, Italian and Portuguese, the company said. Its proprietary translation technology is designed to let members from diverse cultures interact with each one another on the site.

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