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Netflix to make a "SpongeBob SquarePants" spinoff around Squidward!

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Luca 41,074


LOS ANGELES — Nickelodeon will make a “SpongeBob SquarePants” spinoff for Netflix as part of a multiyear content-production deal that reflects the pressure on Netflix to fortify itself against new streaming competition, notably Disney Plus.

Netflix and Nickelodeon announced a deal on Wednesday for Nickelodeon to create and produce original animated feature films and television series based on Nickelodeon’s library of characters. Shows based on completely new characters are also part of the agreement. The companies gave no specifics on characters, the number of shows or how many years.

But the partnership involves a music-based project centered on Squidward, the malcontent anthropomorphic octopus on “SpongeBob SquarePants,” according to two people briefed on the matter, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss still private details. The people said the overall deal was worth more than $200 million to Nickelodeon.

Disney Plus, Disney’s streaming service, became available on Tuesday. In a statement on Wednesday, Disney said 10 million people had signed up for the service, surpassing analyst expectations.

As the so-called streaming wars heat up, children’s programming has become one of the most competitive fronts. Netflix has ramped up production of cartoons, children’s sitcoms and animated movies, in part to compensate for Disney content that is leaving the service. Disney Plus will be the streaming home for everything Disney, Pixar, Marvel, “Star Wars” and National Geographic. HBO Max, the coming app from WarnerMedia, announced a deal with “Sesame Street” last month that will bring, for the first time, most of the show’s five-decade library to streaming: more than 4,500 episodes.

The deal announced on Wednesday reflects a strategic shift at Nickelodeon and its owner, Viacom, in general. Rather than build a streaming service of its own — and with its cable networks in decline because of cord cutting — Viacom has decided to become a kind of Hollywood arms dealer, producing content for whatever streaming service can pay the most. MTV, also owned by Viacom, has been making shows for online buyers, including a reboot of “The Real World” for Facebook.

“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,” Brian Robbins, Nickelodeon’s president, said in the news release.

The two companies have a long history. Nickelodeon licensed hits like “SpongeBob” and “Dora the Explorer” to Netflix starting in 2009, when streaming was in its infancy. Viacom walked away in 2013 — ratings for “SpongeBob” on Nickelodeon had plunged — but made a new deal with Netflix a couple of years ago to supply the service with original content based on Nickelodeon’s “Loud House” and “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” properties, among others.

“Nickelodeon has generated scores of characters that kids love, and we look forward to telling wholly original stories that reimagine and expand on the worlds they inhabit,” Melissa Cobb, Netflix’s vice president of original animation, said in the news release.


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