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

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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.

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