What's the Best Children's Network: Nickelodeon or Disney Channel?

By Price Peterson

Mar 09, 2012

Well, they can't ALL be interesting battles. After a super low turnout in which most people wished for the defeat of BOTH networks, only one continues onward. Congratulations, I guess, goes to...

R.I.P. CMT. These comments just about sum things up:

citizens13: "VH1 only because Best Week Ever ROCKS and I love the I Love... series. Other than that I could never watch any of their reality shows. Even their music countdown kinda sucks."

withoutcanseco: "If we were voting for the old VH1, I'd say that, but I gotta go CMT."

sakuramankai: "VH1... I feel so dirty. I need to cry in the shower."

In this week's match-up, the two biggest children's networks will be shipped off to a remote Japanese island, outfitted with explosive collars, and forced to battle to the death!

Background: In 1979 a fringe cable channel called Pinwheel changed its name to Nickelodeon and proceeded to spend the next thirty years becoming the #1 cable channel in the universe. Ever since the beginning, one of Nickelodeon's most notable aspects has been its split programming schedule. At first evening programming was turned over to The Star Channel (a.k.a. The Movie Channel), but later it was ARTS, then A&E; (!), and finally Nick at Nite, Nickelodeon's in-house programming block of golden-era sitcoms. Over the years Nickelodeon has gone from an importer of dubbed, foreign cartoons to one of the top producers of zeitgeisty programming, eventually spinning off a half-dozen other networks just to contain its vast library of properties.

Original Programming: After years of importing things like You Can't Do That On Television and Duckula, Nickelodeon ventured into original programming first with shows that featured real kids (things like Mr. Wizard's World and Double Dare). But later the network began producing original cartoons such as Doug, The Ren & Stimpy Show, Rocko's Modern Life, and Rugrats. Beloved live-action favorites Hey Dude!, Salute Your Shorts, and The Adventures of Pete & Pete were soon joined by Saturday-night favorites Clarissa Explains it All, Roundhouse, and Are You Afraid of the Dark? Nickelodeon also turned ordinary children into known sketch comedy stars with All That, The Amanda Show and Kenan & Kel. These days most of the Nickelodeon schedule is devoted to SpongeBob SquarePants, iCarly, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Victorious, FRED: The Show, and Big Time Rush, all of which rake in huge licensing and merchandise profits.

Reruns: Most of Nickelodeon's daytime schedule consists of reruns, but they're mostly in-house. Its Nick at Nite programming block, on the other hand, is where the classic reruns live. Fun fact: Nielsen does not consider Nick at Nite to be the same channel as Nickelodeon! But for our purposes, let's just say that Nickelodeon/Nick at Nite currently airs the following outside-the-network reruns: That '70s Show, Married with Children, Family Matters, George Lopez, The Nanny, Home Improvement, and Everybody Hates Chris.

Why It's the Best: If you were a child at any point after 1980, you probably have overwhelming pangs of nostalgia for your particular era of Nickelodeon's programming. I'd drop anything to watch an episode of Finders Keepers or Out of Control (which aren't very good), but especially The Adventures of Pete & Pete (which is SO GOOD STILL).

Why It's the Worst: It's all just a bunch of screaming and noise now, I'm guessing. #generationgap


Background: In early 1983, Walt Disney Productions unveiled The Disney Channel, a premium cable channel which would serve as an outlet for its vast archive of family-friendly entertainment. For about 15 years it aired commercial-free episodes of original series and movies, while making superstars of just about anyone who graced its sound stages. Its gradual conversion to a basic cable channel happened throughout the late '90s and the early 2000s when its ratings exploded as it became one of the most-watched cable networks in the world on the strength of its laser-targeted pre-teen demographics. It's also super profitable for the corporation as it regularly mines Disney-owned record labels for talent, creating a sort of lucrative echo-chamber of its own child stars.

Original Programming: Some of Disney Channel's earliest productions include Welcome to Pooh Corner, Kids Incorporated, Good Morning Miss Bliss (an early version of Saved By the Bell), and The All-New Mickey Mouse Club. Later hits came to include Flash Forward, Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, Kim Possible, That's So Raven, Hannah Montana, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody. More recent shows have included the High School Musical franchise of original movies, Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life on Deck, Jonas L.A., Good Luck, Charlie, So Random! (formerly Sonny With a Chance), Phineas and Ferb, A.N.T. Farm, and Fish Hooks.

Reruns: Disney Channel has specialized in making its network as insular as possible, even refusing to air traditional commercials during its breaks. Fortunately it has plenty of its own material to rerun, from recent episodes of its hit sitcoms to more classic Disney animation vault selections.

Why It's the Best: Ryan Gosling, Keri Russell, Zac Efron, and (MAYBE) Selena Gomez.

Why It's the Worst: Fergie, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Britney Spears, the Jonas Brothers, Demi Lovato, Shia LaBoeuf.

Official TV.com Verdict
This one is genuinely tough! As valuable as both channels were to my childhood, I'm still gonna have to side with Nickelodeon here.

But now it's your turn! COMMENT BELOW and tell us your verdict: Nickelodeon or Disney Channel? And make your case! What do you love or hate about each channel?

Click below to see the full tournament bracket:

Note: Because we started with an odd number of channels, we gave some of the bigger channels a first-round bye.

Want to catch up on past battles? Head over to the America's Got Cable archives.

  • Comments (155)
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  • bautistakenrick856 Mar 05, 2015

    Cartoon Network (even though it's not part of it) and Disney Channel is a lot better because their long-running rival, Nickelodeon, turned into trash after 2009. And because of their horrible new sitcoms, it is becoming a negative influence to ALL aspiring television writers everywhere. Nickelodeon isn't being as good as it used to back in the day. They were all good, until 2009 ended. Whatever happened to the Nicktoons that I know and love? Right now they have new ones with lame toilet humor, like we even give a crap! So really, I give Cartoon Network a 10, Disney Channel a 7 and Nickelodeon a big fat GIANT 0. Nick is just not being the same anymore. That's all I can say about that.

  • lizbetmendez33 Jan 25, 2015

    I love Disney & Cartoon Network(although not being a choice) mainly for Gravity falls, Steven universe and adventure time. I also enjoy Disney channel sitcoms more cause let's face it, nickelodeon's shows are getting crappier. I admit back then I LOVED nick shows, but now it's just cartoons with gross humor and most of their new shows like Bella and the Bulldogs? I'm pretty sure they'll try just about anything to increase their ratings.

  • mariafilipescu50 Aug 05, 2014

    NICK is the best, but I also like some of Disney channel's shows too, also from Cartoon Network, Adventure Time.

  • fsaenz0125 Jul 26, 2014

    Nickelodeon is better than Disney channel because I cant stand these live action sitcoms. But Cartoon Network are better than them.

  • prakashgawani Apr 08, 2014

    ZeeQ kids channel the best channel in India.

  • morganchamber Feb 16, 2014

    Disny, because they don't have crappy toilet jokes!

  • VinnieRichard Dec 12, 2013

    Nick by far, is the best

  • ScampTVCritic Nov 18, 2013

    I would've said Disney Channel back in 2003.

  • rosysimslover Nov 08, 2013

    i have to admit that disney channel used to be good when thats so raven, the proud family, lilo and stitch , the replacements, lizzie mcguire and hannah montanna came on. but now its full of crap shows and bad acting. on the other hand nick has always been good the shows have always been and always will be great. i know everyone has their own opinions and i have watched disney channel recently and it was really bad. for all the people who would rather disney channel they dont know quality acting and good shows. people who usually watch disney should watch nickelodeon and they would like it. please dont take this offensive but i have good reasons for hating disney channel.
    vote: Nickelodeon, by FAAARR!! :)

  • johnvangpetervang Oct 24, 2013

    For sure, Disney is WAYY Better ! Disney cares enough to try to make a proper ending for every show they do ! Disney also knows how to draw and not take idea's from shows ! Nick right now, they just do these lame shows that are based on movies like Kung Fu Panda the series, Monsters vs. Aliens the series, and lame shows like Planet sheen, Tuff Puppy. They don't even give most Nick shows a proper ending ! They only gave Big Time Rush and Icarly a proper ending. Victorious ended with a normal episode, Zoey101 ended with Chase and Zoey kissing and in North America with the questioning. They didn't even give some shows a chance like How to Rock or Wendall and Vinnie, I dislike Nick so much, Dan (The producer of most of the hit shows) Should go to Disney, at least they would have let him do a proper ending for Victorious and Zoey101. Therefore, Nick is the worst. Like I said, they copy, they tried to make music video's on there shows so they could be like Disney, this is why you see some Nickelodeon characters going on Disney.

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