SpongeBob SquarePants Spin-off to Lead Netflix-Nick Partnership
Fri, December 3, 2021

SpongeBob SquarePants Spin-off to Lead Netflix-Nick Partnership

There is a new “SpongeBob SquarePants” spinoff that focuses on the yellow sponge’s octopus neighbor, Squidward Tentacles. / Photo by: InspiredImages via Pixabay

 

Netflix just announced a major tie-up deal with Nickelodeon—and one of the most famous characters who live under the sea is taking the lead.

Earlier this week, the movie-streaming giant said it had formed a “multi-year output deal” with Nick to produce “original animated films and series,” one of which is a new “SpongeBob SquarePants” spinoff that focuses on the yellow sponge’s octopus neighbor, Squidward Tentacles.

The major partnership came a day after the launch of Disney’s streaming platform, Disney Plus, which is said to pose a threat to Netflix’s dominance in the streaming business.

A Big Deal

Now in its 12th season, “SpongeBob SquarePants” is Nickelodeon’s longest-running series and the fifth longest-running animated show in the US since it first premiered in 1999. That kind of longevity is rare to see in animated shows, much less on those that aren’t hinged on a specific storyline.

With their story’s continuance, the yellow sponge and his undersea friends have become one of the most iconic figures in the cartoon world, which means getting the show on Netflix is a big deal for the streamer, according to tech news and media network The Verge.

The characters of “SpongeBob SquarePants” are well-known around the world, with toys and other merchandise featuring that feature them in all their splendor. What’s more, the show also was made into blockbuster movie hits, namely 2004’s “The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie,” which earned $140.2 million and 2015’s “The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water” that brought home a whopping $325.2 million.

The popularity and familiarity that the kids’ series hold is what has helped it remain on TV for the longest time—and those factors could also help Netflix retain, and possibly, draw in more subscribers as it loses much of its profitable and recognizable licensed content to competitors.

To do so, Netflix and Nickelodeon are banking on SpongeBob’s grumpy octopus neighbor Squidward, who will be the focus of a music-based project.

Viacom’s Strategic Shift

Aside from the SpongeBob spin-off, the deal also includes creating and producing original animated feature films and TV series based on Nickelodeon’s iconic library of characters. The companies will also produce shows based on new characters, although neither mentioned specific details on characters, the number of shows, or how many years they are going for in the agreement.

According to the New York Times, the deal demonstrates Nickelodeon and its owner Viacom’s shift in their overall strategy. The newspaper says that instead of developing its streaming service, Viacom moved to become a sort of “Hollywood arms dealer,” in which it produces content for the highest-paying streaming service.

“Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal,” Nickelodeon president Brian Robbins said in a press release.

He added that “the ideas and work are flowing” and that they are excited to work with Netflix “on a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world.”

The Netflix-Nick partnership is seen as an expansion of the existing association between the companies, which allowed Netflix to stream several popular titles namely “Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling” and “Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus” as well as the upcoming animated specials based on “The Loud House” and the “Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.”

Melissa Cobb, Netflix vice president of original animation, expressed her excitement of producing new stories that “re-imagine and expand the worlds” that Nickelodeon’s characters inhabited.

“We’re thrilled to continue collaborating with Brian Robbins, Ramsey Naito, and the creative team at Nickelodeon in new ways as we look to find fresh voices and bring bold stories to our global audience on Netflix,” she said.

 

The Netflix-Nick deal includes creating and producing original animated feature films and TV series based on Nickelodeon’s iconic library of characters. / Photo by: Piotr Trojanowski via 123rf

 

Streaming Wars

The deal comes merely a day following the US launch of Disney Plus on Tuesday. Disney Plus is poised to be one of Netflix’s biggest competitor and some even predict that the No. 1 streamer may lose subscribers to Disney’s new service.

Disney Plus surpassed analysts’ expectations of the number of people signing up for the service after gathering 10 million subscribers on the launch date, Disney said, according to a report on the New York Times.

Before the launch, Disney has been slowly removing its content from Netflix, including its original shows and movies, those made with Pixar, “Star Wars,” and National Geographic. The loss of Disney content prompted Netflix to speed up production and release of new cartoons, children’s sitcoms, and animated movies to compensate for the loss.

But Disney Plus isn’t its only competition in kids’ shows. Netflix is also up against Apple TV+, which launched kids’ shows like “Snoopy in Space” and “Ghostwriter” from Sesame Workshop, tech news site TechCrunch reports.

It adds that HBO Max also poses a threat as it sealed the deal with Sesame Workshop to add more than 4,500 “Sesame Street” back-catalog and first-run episodes in its library. Netflix kid shows supplier NBCU also has plans to launch its streaming service in the coming year.