Insights

Spongebob Squarepants: Over 20 years of global popularity

1 July, 2021

Nickelodeon’s most popular cartoon, Spongebob Squarepants, has been a global hit since it was first aired in 1999. The comedy children’s show, centered around the life and relationships of an eccentric sea sponge who lives in the underwater town of Bikini Bottom, is currently on its thirteenth season and has been the top most in-demand show in the children’s genre worldwide.

In over twenty years of consistent popularity, the cartoon has amassed a large global following and has been extremely triumphant in branching out into many different areas of popular culture. Along with its thirteen television seasons, the Spongebob Squarepants brand has successfully released two blockbuster films, various clothing lines and other merchandise, over forty video games, as well as a Broadway musical in 2016. Now with the coming release of The Patrick Star Show this month, Spongebob Squarepants will become a franchise - which could further solidify its longstanding popularity for years to come.

This article will cover the show’s current level of demand worldwide and which countries that demand is at the highest level. In addition to this, it will explore possible reasons for why the brand has stayed popular across different generations as well as the new avenues it is moving into.

Current Demand

Over the past 30 days, Spongebob Squarepants has had 43.7 times more demand than the average show globally. It is the 18th most in-demand show worldwide, across all genres. The show has maintained closely around this level of demand over 2021. The show also had an exceptional level of demand this time of year in 2020, with 39.8 times more demand than the average show. This consistent and rising popularity could likely be due to the pandemic and how parents, now spending a lot more time at home with the kids, are now wanting shows that they can watch together as a means of family time.

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In regard to the children’s genre, the has sat at the highest amount of demand over the past thirty days.

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Top Markets for Spongebob Squarepants

The show has been consistently popular across the world during its 20 years of airing. Currently, the countries where it has the highest level of demand are the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom. These countries, as well as Indonesia and Russia, have an outstanding level of demand for the show. It is also clear that Spongebob Squarepants has captured the interest of all continents.

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The Japanese Market

One market that has a consistent level of demand for the show, along with its brand and merchandise, is Japan. While the level of demand for Spongebob Squarepants is lower in the country, averaging at 4.1 times more in demand than the average show nationally last month, an interesting point to note is the specific audience that is interested in the show - Japanese women. The accompanying merchandise, such as clothing and accessories, were a big hit here, with the main character being seen as unique and trendy to wear. This market could be interesting to watch over this year, too, with Nick+, an on-demand kid’s service, being launched there in April.

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The Patrick Star Show and Other Spinoffs

The consistent popularity of Spongebob Squarepants over the years could in part have been fueled by the various film adaptations and spinoffs - even after the passing of the show’s creator, Stephen Hillenburg, in 2018.

The three Spongebob Squarepants films, The Spongebob Squarepants Movie, released in 2004, The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge Out of Water, released in 2015, and The SpongeBob Movie: Sponge on the Run, released in July last year, had all remained consistent to the charm of the original series and could provide a new means for fans to experience the show. These film adaptations, the latter two having been produced in CGI format, were also a way for the younger generations to encounter and engage with the longstanding brand. This could be a large contribution to the cross-generation impact the established and longstanding show appears to be having.

Another spinoff of Spongebob Squarepants that will be released on July 9th this year is The Patrick Star Show. This new series will follow Patrick Star, the starfish best friend of Spongebob Squarepants in the original show, and his family as he hosts a talk show from his bedroom. It will be interesting to watch the impact this franchising venture will have on the level of demand for Spongebob Squarepants. The spinoff itself will be one to watch in regard to demand as well. The concept follows that of a talk show format and, with the current demand for talk shows at a steady level, the show could be a potential success - particularly in the United States, where the talk show genre has a significantly high level of demand.

Reaching the New Generation

With a timespan lasting longer than any other cartoon that Nickelodeon has released, Spongebob Squarepants has been standing the test of time - and generational change. The audience has remained loyal while also expanding. This success could largely be due to the show’s incorporation of both visual and audible gags that children can understand and jokes adults can enjoy. This, accompanied with the well established nostalgia, makes for a show that the whole family can enjoy together.

The concept of the show is also relatively timeless. Unlike other shows during the era of its release, such as Rugrats (1991), The Fairly Odd Parents (2001), and Hey Arnold! (1996), Spongebob Squarepants was not largely centered around the lifestyles of humans. This, along with its absurd and wacky humor, could be a significant reason for why the show is so watchable - no matter the generation or even culture. The other-world concept also would allow for the writers to, with every new season, alter the humor to fit with the children of the time. While the show’s original audience may not relate so much to the humor of the current seasons as they had with the first two or three, it has adapted and kept up with the current and coming generations, something the previously mentioned shows have not been able to do as well.

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