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Netflix and Nickelodeon partner on original programming, following Disney+ launch

Sarah Perez

Netflix is taking on the Disney+ threat by partnering with kids' entertainment giant Nickelodeon, which will produce original content, including films and TV shows, for Netflix's streaming service. The company announced this morning it has entered into a new, multi-year output deal that will produce animated feature films and shows that will include both Nickelodeon's well-known library of characters as well as all-new IP.

The shows will be aimed at kids and families around the world, Netflix says.

The deal is an expansion of Nickelodeon's existing relationship with Netflix. Already, Netflix streams a number of popular Nickelodeon titles, including animated specials like "Rocko's Modern Life: Static Cling" and "Invader Zim: Enter the Florpus." It's also soon to add specials based on "The Loud House" and "Rise of the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles."

The deal news comes only a day after the launch of Disney+ in the U.S., which will be one of its largest markets. Disney+ has been positioned as a potential rival for Netflix, with some forecasts even stating that Netflix could lose subscribers to the family-friendly streamer. One report from market research firm AudienceProject out today, in fact, claims that 33% of U.S. consumers who are planning to sign up for Disney+ are considering canceling their Netflix subscriptions at the same time.

To retain customers, Netflix will need to have more kids' content that will appeal to families -- a powerful demographic that all streamers today target with investments in original programming and other licensing deals.

"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," said Melissa Cobb, vice president, Nickelodeon, 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."

"Nickelodeon’s next step forward is to keep expanding beyond linear platforms, and our broader content partnership with Netflix is a key path toward that goal," said Brian Robbins, president, Nickelodeon.

"The Nickelodeon Animation Studio is home to the world-class artists and storytellers behind some of the most iconic characters and shows ever made, and our head of Animation, Ramsey Naito, has been building on that legacy over the past year by ramping up development and production exponentially. The ideas and work at our Studio are flowing, and we can’t wait to work with Melissa and the Netflix team on a premium slate of original animated content for kids and families around the world," Robbins added.

Netflix didn't offer any details on which iconic Nickelodeon IP would be involved in the new programming, or what sort of new characters may be under development. Nor did it speak to the number of titles it expects the multi-year deal to produce or when the first shows or movies would arrive. Instead, today's announcement was more focused on taking the wind out of Disney's sails following its big (and sometimes glitchy) U.S. launch.

Nickelodeon isn't the only new partner in the children's and family space working with Netflix, as part of the streamer's larger strategy to challenge the Disney+ threat. As The New York Times recently reported, the streamer has been amassing a number of creators and executives as part of its counterattack strategy, including former Pixar and Disney animators, and others. It also recently worked with the Jim Henson Company to produce "The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance."

Netflix also touted to The NYT the value of kids' programming to its service, noting that around 60% of Netflix's global audience watches the service for children and family content on a monthly basis.

Disney+ isn't Netflix's only streaming challenger in the kids' programming space, these days. Newly launched Apple TV+ features kids' shows, including "Snoopy in Space" and "Ghostwriter" from Sesame Workshop. HBO Max also has a deal with Sesame Workshop for 4,500+ "Sesame Street" back-catalog episodes and first-run episodes. NBCU, a supplier of one of Netflix's top kid shows ("The Boss Baby: Back in Business") is also planning to launch its own streaming service next year.

The new Nickelodeon programming will be a part of the Netflix Animation division, which currently includes family animated feature film "Klaus" from Sergio Pablos (streaming November 15), kids animated series "Dino Girl Gauko" from Japan (streaming November 22), adult animated film "I Lost My Body" from Jérémy Clapin (streaming November 29) and "Fast & Furious Spy Racers" from DreamWorks (streaming December 26), among others.