Netflix's Chosen Fighter to Take on Disney+ Is, Uh, Nickelodeon

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I imagine it’s looking pretty grim from where Netflix is standing right now.

The streaming giant announced Wednesday—just one day after the launch of Disney’s highly-anticipated new streaming service, a service primarily catering to families and nerds—that it’s partnered with Nickelodeon on a multi-year content deal. Nickelodeon has existed on Netflix before, such as with Rocko’s Modern Life: Static Cling and Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus, but the deal will involve the production of new original animated movies and series. According to the company, this new content will be based on “the Nickelodeon library of characters” as well as others.

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“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,” Melissa Cobb, Netflix vice president of original animation, said in a statement. “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.”

Netflix has had kids content for years, but the streaming giant may be feeling the heat with the launch of a service that’s positioned itself to dominate the kid-friendly services arena with its decades and decades of successful films and television series. And not only does Disney+ house Marvel, Pixar, Star Wars, and National Geographic, it also owns Hulu. If Netflix is seriously going to take on Disney+ head-on, it’s going to need more than a couple of Nickelodeon spin-offs.

Thanks in part to the head-spinning number of services that have released or are going to launch in the coming months, Netflix has lost a good share of some of its most popular licensed series. It’s losing customers for the first time in years. Its original content is lackluster at best in most categories (specifically its cursed comedy specials). And some of its big bets on retention are real head-scratchers. The company reportedly paid somewhere in the ballpark of $500 million for Seinfeld, for god’s sake. And now, Netflix appears to be putting its money on Nickelodeon to target kids and families.

I’m not saying that Netflix is dead in the water, but it would be wise to pivot away from “quantity over quality” and just make some better content. With so many competitors entering the streaming fray, it’s going to have to.

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I’m rooting for Netflix, but damn.

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