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October 30, 2006

SpongeBob Fights It Out in Germany

posted by MR WAVETHEORY at 10/30/2006 11:18:00 AM

The journal is reporting that Viacom and RTL, a local German station, are airing a combined 28 hours of SpongeBob on TV every week. SpongeBob is the hottest children's show on German TV and both Viacom, Inc. (NYSE VIA) and RTL Group S.A own the rights to SpongeBob. Get this:

"SpongeBob Schwammkopf," ("SpongeBob Spongehead") as the cartoon is called in German, is the main weapon in a pitched battle between Viacom Inc., which is trying to establish its Nickelodeon channel in Germany, and a tough local competitor, Super RTL. Nickelodeon is running 18 hours of "SpongeBob" a week. Super RTL is showing about 10 hours.

What's interesting is that Viacom owns SpongeBob but sold the rights to it a few years ago:

Viacom has no one but itself to blame for the competition. After pulling the plug on a previous attempt to launch Nickelodeon in Germany in 1998, it sought to squeeze some revenue out of Europe's largest TV-viewer market by selling Super RTL the rights to some top Nickelodeon shows. Today, that decision appears short-sighted as Nick -- the most successful kids channel in the U.S. -- and its German rival fight anthropomorphic sea sponge with anthropomorphic sea sponge.

More people watch SpongeBob on RTL Than on Nick:

Marcus Andorfer, general manager of Nickelodeon Germany, counters that Super RTL's strategy shows that "they are frightened" and that independent surveys show German children like the Nick brand more than Super RTL. But without exclusive use of its own shows, it won't be easy for Nickelodeon to overcome Super RTL's lead soon. About five times as many people, including 370,000 children, watch "SpongeBob" on Super RTL as watch it on Nickelodeon, according to Viacom figures.

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