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Nickelodeon cashes in with Netflix

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket (Getty Images)

With the launch of Disney+ yesterday, the modern streaming wars have now well and truly begun. (Or whatever Yoda-esque mangling of syntax you happen to prefer.) Although HBO and parent company WarnerMedia have yet to join the fray officially—with HBO Max set to arrive some time in the first half of 2020—all of the other major players have now staked out their territory, with Netflix as the entrenched survivor fending off attacks on all sides, and Disney as the monolithic force moving, steamroller-esque, across its territory. Meanwhile, groups like Apple and the more traditional, non-ABC networks skulk around the sidelines, hoping to opportunistically pick off a few straggling subscribers from the pack to fuel the likes of CBS All Access or NBC’s upcoming Peacock. (And all quail in dread of the arrival of Quibi, the phone-based destroyer that will soon be coming for us all.)

It is, in other words, a mess, one only made infinitely messier by the complicated web of licensing deals and original content contracts that power the entire endeavor. (Which is why, say, you can still stream Avengers: Infinity War on Netflix right now, even though Disney would probably really prefer that you didn’t.) Prompted by this looming conflict, the push in recent years has been for most of the big studios to move away from licensing to other companies—because why help your rivals make money off of your stuff—and in favor of original content. Which is why it’s so interesting to see Deadline report today that Nickelodeon has just given a proverbial G-rated “Fuck it,” and signed a multi-year licensing and development deal with Netflix.

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To be fair, the two companies have been working together for years now, including on projects like the recent Invader Zim and Rocko’s Modern Life revival movies. Still, it’s not like CBS (also owned by Sumner Redstone’s National Amusements, and set to merge with Nickelodeon parent company Viacom in the near future) doesn’t have its own, admittedly anemic, streaming service that could play host to new Nick content, were anyone desperate to have their hard work hosted on, well, CBS All Access. (Motto: “Please come pay a subscription fee in exchange for viewing exactly three shows!”)

Anyway: Per Deadline, this new Netflix deal will only cover new original Nickelodeon content, including specials built around The Loud House and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. The company’s classic backlog of shows, meanwhile, is currently kind of spread out over the streaming landscape; Warner’s VRV has a lot of it, but for the most part, there’s no one really leveraging the classic Nicktoons brand to lure nostalgia-hungry subscribers in. All of which might change once the CBS-Viacom merger is completed, but for now, if you want original Nick content, you’ll have to head to Netflix to get it.

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