Networks In The United States – Part 1

While living in Canada has many advantages as pertaining to viewing animated shows, it does have its draw backs. There are many networks we never received up here, due to strict restrictions on foreign media ownership and Canadian content. The only way to get these networks would be to have a satellite feed of these channels, which as far I know is illegal. That’s why if you really want to view these networks, you have to be sneaky and get a grey market American satellite dish.

While I have a good knowledge of what children’s networks are available here, I’m not as informed as to what is offered stateside. While I do know the big names, I’m sure there are smaller networks that I’m missing; so I’ll only cover the ones I know of, and try my best doing so.

Nickelodeon – Launched April 1, 1979
Originally established in December 1977 under the name Pinwheel in Columbus, Ohio on the QUBE cable system (now Time Warner Cable) – the channel went national by expanding to another cable system in Buffalo, New York on April 1, 1979 (its official birth date). Pinwheel changed its name to Nickelodeon in 1981 and became available nationwide. It would become known for its iconic green slime, which not many know came from the Canadian show You Can’t Do That On Television, which aired on Nickelodeon from 1981-1993. In 1984 the original silver ball logo was replaced with the current orange “shape-shifting” logo.

Like its Canadian counterpart YTV, Nick has aired a huge assortment of live action kids shows and animation from all parts of the world for (can it really be?) almost 30 years. It’s incorporated many blocks of programming over the years, has spun-off sister channels as well like Nicktoons Network (launched May 1, 2002), since 1993 publishes Nickelodeon Magazine, and has produced many full length motion pictures under the Nickelodeon Movies name (what a powerful company, eh?). The network has expanded all over the world, but Canada remains one of the few places where it hasn’t – most likely because YTV has aired most of Nick’s programming. I saw a small glimpse of the network once at a friend’s house that had a satellite dish in the early 00’s. At the time I really wished I could get the channel, and this was my first and only dose of it I ever received.

Prior to 1991 Nickelodeon aired mostly foreign-based cartoons coming from Canada, UK, France, Eastern Europe (mainly Russia and Poland), Japan, as well as American cartoons that were produced by other networks. That all changed in the early 90’s when the network started to make their own animated cartoons called Nicktoons – the rest they say, is history. Nick produced some of the best and popular animated shows of the 90’s – hitting massive success twice with Rugrats first in 1991, and then with SpongeBob SquarePants in 1999. The network has also featured a vast array of programming blocks and original animated bumpers (featuring various Nicktoon characters), and for a while had a very distinctive look in its animation stemming from the Klasky-Csupo style of producing animated shows.

Has Nickelodeon jumped the shark with its viewing audience and current programming? It’s an overwhelming yes – they may have ruled in the 90’s with their Nicktoons, but these days are just a shadow of their former greatness. Spongebob Squarepants is a good show in its own right – but the network pushes it too far (and has been for years) to the point where Spongebob is basically Nick’s mascot. I would have loved to have gotten the channel back 15 years ago, but these days most of their older programming has vanished and most of their current stuff is trash. Check out more on Nickelodeon’s history here, here and here. Youtube has lots of Nick related stuff so check that out as well.

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