Children of the 90s rejoice: Almost 30 classic Nickelodeon series, including, CatDog, The Wild Thornberrys, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? are now available on NickSplat, a new streaming video on-demand channel powered by VRV. The shows are part of the Nickelodeon’s classic ’90s and ’00s lineup, for which many children who grew up in that era remain nostalgic.
With the rise in popularity of online streaming services – thanks in large part to Netflix and Hulu – it seems most television networks and media companies are attempting to join the trend. CBS already launched CBS All Access last year with exclusive shows and other content; Disney is planning their own standalone service that will debut in late 2019; and DC Entertainment is gearing up to premiere the online platform DC Universe, which will incorporate comics, TV series and other kinds of media. Now, Nickelodeon is tapping both into online streaming and ’90s nostalgia with their latest venture.
EW reported the launch of NickSplat, which is already live with a number of classic Nickelodeon shows. In partnership with Nickelodeon (owned by Viacom), VRV is the the brainchild of Crunchyroll-creator Ellation, a WarnerMedia company. NickSplat can be purchased for $5.99 per month, or included as part of the VRV premium package at $9.99 per month. Prospective subscribers can visit the VRV website for more details, however availability is restricted based on location.
Viacom and Ellation are aiming to give audiences easy access to beloved series that, with the exception of DVD sales, haven’t been widely accessible since they were taken off-air. NickSplat includes series such as AAAHH!!! Real Monsters, CatDog, Doug, Rocko’s Modern Life, The Wild Thornberrys, The Angry Beavers, Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Chalkzon, Clarissa Explains It All, Double Dare 2000, Hey Dude, Kablam, Kenan & Kel, The Mystery Files of Shelby Woo, Salute Your Shorts, The Amanda Show, All That, Guts, Nick Arcade, Legends of the Hidden Temple and Nick Arcade.
The news comes as an interesting counterpoint to Disney’s efforts to launch its own streaming service, which is positioned to end long-standing content licensing agreements with Netflix. Both deals undeniably come with a gamble. Viacom is betting that a digital-first generation hasn’t already hit a point of SVOD-content saturation, and wants to invest in a trip down Saturday morning cartoon memory lane. Disney is betting that their à la carte content selection, reinforced by its pending acquisition of Fox, will be enough to entice viewers away from their Netflix queues. It’s a bold move, considering TV giant Shonda Rhimes’ jump from Disney ABC Studios to a multiyear Netflix deal last year. There’s also the risk of fragmentation between services becoming so separate that audiences start to capriciously jump between them, or cancel subscriptions altogether. Since Netflix’s rise to prominence, Amazon, Apple, and Hulu have emerged as competitors. None of them necessarily satisfy a viewer’s desire to simply have all their favorites in one place.
Nevertheless, Nickelodeon’s hope that a video platform engineered for animated series will serve a generation’s largely absent need for nostalgia isn’t unreasonable. Many Nickelodeon productions have been hailed as timeless, and gone on to inspire movies and reboots for years. The Rugrats reboot scheduled for 2020 may have a lot to learn about the hopes and enthusiasm of its legacy fans thanks to NickSplat. As more reboots are seemingly announced every week, services like VRV could become key in predicting not only what’s coming back, but what’s worth getting excited about.