Just a day after Disney+ launched, two of its biggest competitors in children’s programming and streaming, respectfully, are teaming up to take on the nascent behemoth. Nickelodeon and Netflix have “formed a new, multi-year output deal to produce original animated feature films and television series.” The new content will be based both on Nickelodeon’s expansive library of characters and original intellectual property. The New York Times reports that the pair is bringing out the big guns: a musical spin-off centered on Squirdward, Bikini Bottom’s resident curmudgeon. Hell yeah.
If this feels like a desperate move, it probably is. But that doesn’t mean it’s bad for families. It’s actually probably good and presents a decent reason for keeping your Netflix account for a little bit longer.
The move makes a lot of sense for the cable network and streaming service, both of which have reason to be nervous with the entry of Disney+ and its huge library of Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, and Disney titles.
The new deal builds on previous collaborations between the two companies, animated specials based on Rocko’s Modern Life and Invader Zim, and upcoming specials based on The Loud House and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.
Last month, Variety reported on the grim outlook for ad-supported kid-oriented cable networks like Nickelodeon as more families turn to ad-free (or relatively ad-light) streaming platforms for children’s entertainment. If Nickelodeon wants to survive, it makes sense to move its content to where people are watching.
“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,” said Brian Robbins, the president of the network.
Netflix, on the other hand, is playing catch-up with Disney+, and the Nick deal is a quick way to bring a slew of proven children’s characters to its service. In that way, the deal is similar to the one it struck with DreamWorks in 2013 that instantly brought 1,000 episodes of kids TV to Netflix.
“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that re-imagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” said Netflix vice president of original animation, Melissa Cobb.
But while the move makes sense for both companies, it’s unlikely that it’s the last either will need to make to survive in a world with Disney+. The streaming wars are far from over, but the smart money is on Disney+ to dominate for the foreseeable future.
The net result for families? Keeping your Netflix account probably makes sense. Assuming, of course, that you like Nickelodeon. If you’re psyched for this new Spongebob project, looking to get your Peppa Pig fix, or just curious about that in-development Star Trek show for kids, Netflix may have just made itself relevant to families again.