Cartoon Network vs Nickelodeon
Both the channels promise to entertain kids throughout the world. But how do they fare in the Middle East?
Watching cartoons is increasingly getting harder. Few decades ago, TV cartoons were synonymous with Tom and Jerry, Bugs Bunny and the Flintstones. Now, it’s become a battle between Dexter and Dora, Johnny Bravo and Jimmy Neutron, Powerpuff Girls and Pokemon, apart from the countless other cartoon characters who vie for kids attention.
One of the oldest kids’ channels in the market is Nickelodeon, which was founded by Viacom International in 1979 as Pinwheel. The name was changed two years later. But tough competition came along with Cartoon Network, the offering from Turner Broadcasting, a Time Warner company, which began operations in 1992.
Cartoon Network started off as an all-animation channel, and drew on Turner’s well-stocked libraries that included Warner Bros. Looney Tunes, MGM’s Tom and Jerry, and Hanna-Barbera’s The Jetsons. However, the channel later branched out to include other programming as well. While Nickelodeon also started out as a channel for the kids, it was not an all toon offering. Its programming was divided into various blocks from the beginning— Nick toons, Nick Junior and Nick at Nite (for adults).
While both the channels started off in the US, they have now expanded throughout the world, and both claim to be available in around 160 countries.
Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon are now keenly marketing their own games, which are available on their websites. They have also brought out mobile TV options, magazines, and also tons of franchise products of their characters.
Sponge Bob Square Pants recently visited Dubai to inaugurate Nickelodeon Arabia, the channel’s Middle East version. Nickelodeon’s 50th local channel, the company partnered with the Arab Media Group to bring out the Arabic, free-to-air version. Nickelodeon Arabia showcases a mixture of programming including international content such as Dora the Explorer, and some local production such as Shoof Kids, which features homemade videos submitted by viewers.
Cartoon Network, though, is yet to get a region- specific version. The company’s European channel includes the Middle East and African markets, and though it available in around 20 languages worldwide, Arabic is still to make the list. The channel entered the region in 1996, when Turner Broadcasting signed an agreement with Arab Radio and Television.
Last year, Cartoon Network announced a partnership with the Teshkeel Media Group in Kuwait, to publish Arabic and English versions of Cartoon Network Magazine in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Under the terms of the agreement, Teshkeel will publish 9 issues of Cartoon Network magazine a year and each 32-page issue will include comics, puzzles and games for 6-12 year old children.
In 2006, Info2cell.com, a mobile application service provider in the Middle East also joined hands with Turner to deliver content from Cartoon Network. Info2cell.com provides subscribers with Java games, wallpapers, themes and ringtones from Cartoon Network. The company said that the application would be available throughout the region, including the GCC, Jordan, Egypt, Syria and Iraq.
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