NICKELODEON: How Your Childhood Channel Died -LightTrain

Howdy, I’m your conductor Gavin Nowak here to talk about Nickelodeon. This channel was dominant in the late 80s and all throughout the 90s, offering kids around the globe a wide selection of cartoons, sitcoms and game shows. This dynasty was founded in 1977 but it wasn’t until a couple of years that it became the king of TV. In fact, it originally was called Pinwheel before converting to the iconic Nickelodeon two years later, but even that change didn’t immediately bring in great results. This period the channel was extremely experimental, dishing out many obscure series to find out what clicked with its young audience (a few examples include America Goes Bananaz, Livewire and Nick Rocks).

The first real success Nickelodeon received was through the sketch comedy program You Can’t Do That On Television, which continued to esteem solid ratings and aired on the channel for nine years straight, as well as introduce the quintessential slime that would be associated with the network for many years to come. Despite You Can’t Do That On Television’s success, the channel was still rock bottom in ratings, and the executives decided to give Nickelodeon a much needed makeover. The previous logo of a disco ball fonted by multicolored letters was trashed and replaced by balloon typeface accompanied by an orange splat.

Well, the redesign payed off! Nickelodeon soon boosted up in viewership remarkably and kept pushing forward with it’s live action programming, bringing the likes of Hey Dude, Salute your Shorts, All That, GUTS, The Adventures of Pete and Pete, Clarissa Explains it All, Double Dare, Roundhouse, and Legends of the Hidden Temple. Also popular were the inclusion of Nick Jr., Snick, The Kids Choice Awards and Nick at Nite, which introduced me to some cool shows before my time like Get Smart, Green Acres, and Mad Movies with the L.A. Connection. Another excellent addition were the animated IDs for the network: cartoon jingles sung by the “doo-wop” group ‘ The Jive Five’.

Hello out there from TV Land!

Even with the impressive collection of series the channel aired there was something vital missing, like the final piece of a puzzle, that would break ground for Nickelodeon – Nicktoons. On August 11, 1991, three animated shows premiered; these were Rugrats, a series about a baby’s outlook on life, Doug, about a pre-teens predicaments in his town Bluffington, and Ren & Stimpy, featuring the outrageous exploits of a unstable chihuahua and a dim-witted cat. Originally, Nickelodeon was against creating cartoons because they were a pretty penny to fund, and they were very much right. These shows weren’t cheap in the least but with great risk comes great reward, which was the case for the network as all three were smash hits.

Many more Nicktoons were created soon after; for instance, Rocko’s Modern Life, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters, Hey Arnold, KaBlam!, The Angry Beavers, CatDog, The Wild Thornberrys, Rocket Power, Spongebob Squarepants, Invader Zim, The Fairly Oddparents, My Life as a Teenage Robot and Avatar: The Last Airbender. Nickelodeon was an imperial of children’s programming that they could call home, however good things like these don’t last forever and by the early-2000s their empire began to crumble. But, why? How has this channel fallen so far from its original roots? In 1999, a certain Nicktoon listed a moment ago debuted and flipped the competition on Nickelodeon over itself: Spongebob Squarepants. Years earlier, Herb Scannell was bestowed his high title as president of Nickelodeon and progressively made the channel he was now in full control of more corporate then the year previous. This was already an issue, as the executives settled on weeding out more of the channel’s creative shows (specifically Rocko’s Modern Life, Roundhouse and GUTS). When Spongebob entered the stage though, Nickelodeon hit a gold mine.

It instantly became one of the network’s most popular premieres and contained a sense of fun and entertainment that both adults and kids devoured. Herb and his executives learned that Spongebob worked incredibly well, and assigned all of its bets on the show. Two decades later and Spongebob has earned 13 billion dollars in merchandise revenue, over 250 episodes, and two successful feature films from 2004 and 2015 plus a third set to release this year, 2020. It would be insufferable to be a consistent viewer of the channel, since for 20 years straight all you see is never-ending Spongebob episodes. Sadly, Nickelodeon lost any and all variety, and by the 2010s, it was practically a Spongebob marathon every day.

The “first kids network” has had audiences retort it and resort to it throughout the years, and this decade, sadly, it’s definitely been trashed on more than being a creative dominion like days of old. But Nickelodeon hasn’t completely lost all the marbles, since they still offer stellar series’ like The Loud House and Harvey Beaks while also providing The Splat on TeenNick. The Nickelodeon we knew from our childhood may be dead, but I think it’s slowly improving; I’m optimistic for its future.

Nick Nick Nick Nick Nick Nick Nick Nick, Nickelodeooooooon!

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