Before Nicktoons came about, Inspector Gadget was Nickelodeon's most-adored cartoon in the 80's. Clips of the show also appeared in some of Nick's promos. Looney Tunes on Nickelodeon was also treated this way.
All That was the next big live action show for Nick after You Can't Do That On Television.
Rugrats was the first Nicktoon to get this treatment. After the show was brought out of hiatus due to the ratings for the reruns being strong, the show dominated most of the lineup and was running at least four times a day 7 days a week. This led to Nickelodeon using the studio Klasky-Csupo to produce at least six new shows for the network, including the RugratsSpin-OffAll Grown Up! (born from another over-hyped special). Meanwhile, all the other Nicktoons were basically ignored or canceled outright. Though Rugrats was nowhere near as Adored by the Network back then as Sponge Bob Squarepants is now (see below).
Back in the mid-to-late 90's, Garfield and Friends was adored more than any other syndicated show, airing twice a day and getting promoted often.
SpongeBob SquarePants could be the poster-child for the trope. Since the show was uncanceled, it would run at least eight times on an average weekday. It would often be the first thing they show in the morning and the last thing they show at night (before turning into Nick At Nite), and it's the only show that they run at all different hours of the day to get pre-schoolers, after-school kids, and evening teenager audiences. "Special" SpongeBob episodes would be hyped up and promoted more often than the regular Nicktoons on the network. Some days, it'd get more airtime than all the other Nicktoons still on Nickelodeon combined. At least during 2009-2011, even repeats got higher ratings than the average that most kids' shows nowadays have. Eventually, ratings for the show dropped - probably due to daily overexposure.
There was a three-day long marathon of nothing but SpongeBob in 2009 to promote the 10-year anniversary leading up to the Truth or Square special. Later during that week, even Nick At Nite aired a special about the production of the show.
On 7/29/10, of the 11 hours of Nickelodeon not including Nick At Nite and Nick Jr, nine hours were filled with SpongeBob and iCarly alone without any of their current Nicktoons showing and only two other shows aired.
During 2010, the Australian Nickelodeon had SpongeBob running from 12AM-6AM every night, for over a year.
A schedule change in April 2011 resulted in SpongeBob having over 60 airings that week.
The UK Nickelodeon had a 502 hour marathon of SpongeBob in Summer 2011 (that's two hours short of three solid weeks) for the Clash of the Bottom competition, where kids had to vote for their favorite main character. To top that off, it was the UK's second-longest TV show marathon of all time, only being beaten by Boomerang UK's Scooby Summer.note (The American record belongs to FXX's 2014 marathon of The Simpsons in its entirety, including the movie.)
On July 21, 2012 Nick aired a SpongeBob marathon to promote the "Super-Spongey Square Games", an hour-long block of new episodes devoted to sports. They also aired the 1-hour special "Truth or Square" and the movie.
Whenever a new episode is going to be aired (and a 15-minute one at that), Nickelodeon will hype it up with a big marathon and tons of promos that air on Nickelodeon, other Viacom networks, and networks that aren't owned by Viacom! note though the latter instance may depend on your cable/satellite provider, as some of them overwrite ads to air local commercials or promos for other networks. Make note that CBS is no longer part of Viacom That there just shows how much that Nickelodeon absolutely loves SpongeBob.
Hollywood news website Deadline reported that in January 2012, SpongeBob filled up about a quarter of Nickelodeon's schedule. As of October 2013, the Sponge now accounts for roughly 45% of the network's airtime!
By late 2014, it seemed like SpongeBob was getting fewer and fewer airings, prompting some suspicion that the show would suffer the same fate as Who Wants to Be a Millionaire? suffered when ABC treated it the same way for many years. Then in December of that year, Nick did a 360 and showed endless marathons so that they could promote the then-upcoming Sponge Out Of Water feature filmnote just like ABC Family did whenever a new Harry Potter movie came out, and similar to when Channel 10 in Australia would show the original Star Wars trilogy over three weekends whenever a prequel was released. When that was said and done, Nick would once again diminish SpongeBob's presence on the channel so they could focus on their live-action fare to compete with Disney.
And then came April 2015, when after years and years of ignoring analysts who downgraded the company and cable companies who dumped the channel for binge-marathoning a series the same way anyone else can through Netflix and Amazon Instant Video, Viacom braced for major cutbacks, and among them (besides actual employees) are SpongeBob reruns. As a side effect of these cutbacks, Nickelodeon would finally embrace series from other companies for the first time in years to end their dependence on SpongeBob reruns, starting with Oggy and the Cockroaches (a show that did nothing on Fox Kids in 1998, but looks fresh and original on present-day Nickelodeon). That said, Oggy didn't last quite long on Nick, as it came under fire by Moral Guardians due to a brief image of a topless woman in the episode "Unhappy Campers", and the show was moved to sister channel Nicktoons with its timeslot replaced by The Fairly OddParents (and on some days by Harvey Beaks or a live-action show). It says something when Nicktoons itself airs more SpongeBob reruns in primetime than Nickelodeon itself does. (As an additional consequence, Oggy also affected many places which showed Nick to entertain kids, as they now changed channels to rival channels due to this episode's airing.)
iCarly spent several years as the adored live action show counter-part to Spongebob. Not surprisingly however, as it was the only show to even come close to matching Spongebob's ratings and popularity, up to and including an episode that broke the 11 million viewers mark. Like Spongebob it got the marathon treatment regularly.
Nickelodeon does this with any "big" Teen Com that has any form of success — Drake & Josh comes to mind fairly quickly and they even aired the Christmas special over and over even when it wasn't Christmas.
Speaking of Drake and Josh, they also liked playing the "Really Big Shrimp" special a lot. In the mid-2000's, it would air at least once a month.
Plus, when the network's teen-coms air new two-part specials, after their airing, it'll probably rerun lots of times shortly afterward. When "iStart a Fan War" premiered in mid-November, it aired a total of nine times in the remainder of the month alone. Similarly with "iParty with Victorious", because Nickelodeon went so far as to make an extended version of it.
Averted in iCarly's last year or so. Nick showed first-run episodes without any promotion at all, and were pushing Victorious instead.
After the premiere of Sam & Cat, the network repeatedly promoted reruns of the first episode, using the phrase "See how it all began" as if it hadn't aired just the day before. After two days of this the network dropped all pretenses and announced that it would air the first episode every single day that week.
Before 2013, Dora the Explorer used to be the most adored preschool show on Nickelodeon, airing at least four times during the morning hours, and any special episodes of Dora were shown on normal Nickelodeon hours (or tail end of Nick Jr. hours) on the main channel. The specials even showed up on Nick's syndicated programming blocks that used to air on CBS in the early 2000s.
By July 2014 the crown would be overtaken by Paw Patrol, which would run 4 episodes a day, and Dora was reduced to one airing a day.
Sometimes Nick combines overplayed shows into giant marathons or blocks that can take up entire days:
On 11/26/10, they played a six-hour SpongeBob marathon, followed by an iCarly marathon at 3, ending with iStart a Fan War at 7, and wrapped it up with the premiere of the Victorious special, "Freak the Freak Out".
On Latin America's channel, almost all weekends are 48 hour marathons of either SpongeBob or iCarly.
As of May 18, 2012, Nickelodeon could be called "The Spongebob and Kung Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness Network". The latter would play for 2 1/2 hours on weekdays, making it the second-most run show on Nick.
Fanboy and Chum Chum: Massive blocks on both Nickelodeon and Nicktoons, It seemed for a while that you couldn't go a single day of the week without seeing at least three episodes of it.
Often the same three episodes. Again and again and again. Seriously, for a while you could only see three to five episodes, total, of The Penguins of Madagascar and Fanboy and Chum Chum, even with the knowledge that other episodes probably existed. They would play them in hour blocks, yet you never seemed to catch a new episode.
When they had the rights to it, Dragon Ball Z Kai would be shown on Nicktoons multiple times every day with flimsy excuses for marathons. It's 11/11/11? They promised to show 11 hours of the show. As of 2012 it would run at least 4 episodes a day. However, the rights have since expired and the show is no longer airing on Nicktoons. It moved to [adult swim]'s Toonami block in Fall 2014.
The block-series, Nick Studio 10, was crammed into the program during any possible rerun. It got so bad that Nick actually interrupted whatever show is playing to air a random clip of something and/or a Studio 10 skit instead of waiting for the next commercial break. An irrational Periphery Hatedom developed, and Studio 10 became a rare case of a series seemingly bullied off the air by social media.
Nickelodeon was extensively advertising Sanjay and Craig when it was new. In fact, two or even three commercials for the show would air in a single commercial break. Commercials were even airing on different networks. They've also interrupted shows with Sanjay and Craig ads as well, playing a commercial right after a show's theme song. However, it's (thankfully) fitted so no content is missed.
They went so far as to advertise on Tumblr, leading to a backlash against the show because Tumblr ads were breaking into the users' dashboard.
Is today a holiday (Christmas, New Year's, Thanksgiving, etc.) or a special event on a different network such as the Super Bowl or an awards show (i.e. Grammies, Emmies, Oscars)? Chances are that Rugrats in Paris: The Movie will be on tonight. The movie is also played every other week as well.
Before Rugrats in Paris, from 2009-2012, Nickelodeon used these same excuses to air the first live-action Scooby-Doo movie. (Ironically, it's Scooby-Doo, which is normally adored by Nick's competitor!!!)
Whenever there's a big SpongeBob marathon, you can almost always expect an airing of The Sponge Bob Square Pants Movie. Sometimes, they will air it TWO or more times in the same marathon. It was like this during the 10th anniversary marathon, as well as one promoting a new episode. Nowadays it's gotten to the point where they'll play the SpongeBob movie just to fill space that they can't fill with more SpongeBob. No real rhyme or reason, you'll just tune in one day and there it'll be.
They also adored Jinxed back in November and December of 2013-and still enjoy it today!
When it was new, Rabbids Invasion took Kung Fu Panda's crown as second most run animated series on Nickelodeon. You could expect to see at least 2 hours of it a day.
Back when TeenNick was still The N, when they first picked up One on One reruns in early 2006 they began running the show ad nauseam, with the occasional Degrassi re-run in the prime time slots and new episodes would air infrequently of their other shows. A year later in spring 2007, The N's line-up was two episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then two episodes of One on One, then two episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, then two episodes of One on One. Degrassi completely disappeared from the schedule, save for re-runs at 3AM on the weekends.
Degrassi on TeenNick is an especially unusual case since Nick/Viacom does not own merchandising rights to the show, and Epitome Pictures makes separate agreements for DVD production.
Degrassi's also adored by the Canadian channel Much Music. When a new season starts, all day is given over to the runup to the premiere. This makes a little more sense for them - Degrassi and Epitome's other current production The LA Complex are Much's flagship original dramas.
Zoey 101 and Drake & Josh re-runs have more or less taken over TeenNick's entire schedule during the day and early evening. It's to the point that even long-time fans of both shows have expressed annoyance at the shows being played way too much in a given day.
As soon as Open Heart started airing on TeenNick, the channel would air it no less than 4 times a day.
Nick At Nite was every bit as bad with The George Lopez Show, probably worse. First, they would run marathons of the show for every occasion imaginable using any excuse they could get, no matter how shoddy. Then they did away with the excuses, and began showing marathons of George Lopez without even giving an excuse to do so. On multiple occasions, they aired over 40 hours of it in one week, setting up a bizarre situation — his self-titled Talk Show on TBS often competed with his own old sitcom.
It got so ridiculous that Nick at Nite decided to celebrate Saint Patrick's Day (which in America at least is viewed as basically being a day to celebrate Irish heritage) with "Luck of the Lopez" week.
As of 2011, MTV Tr3s has gotten in on the George Lopez overplaying fun now too.
Also as of 2011, Friends has gotten a lot of overexposure since it was added to the Nick At Nite line-up. Now, it's normally an hour of Full House, an hour of The Nanny, then about 2 hours of Friends, leaving The George Lopez Show to air at 1 a.m. Not to mention BET airing Family Matters during the day now.
The Nanny was also adored by Nick At Nite in 2010. Nick At Nite would play marathons of the show on major holidays, and aired three hours of it a day.
Nick At Nite loved Fresh Prince when they had the syndication rights to it. There were several times where they'd show four episodes in one two-hour block. It was also an "introductory" staple for a while, where it would be the first show after the regular Nick schedule ends, possibly to attract a younger crowd.
Part of what happens with Nick At Nite and TV Land is that when they get the rights to a new show, they always give it something of an introductory marathon to get people into the groove of watching it. They tend to do it with most shows when they first get the rights to them.
NickMom, Nick Jr.'s answer to the main Nickelodeon network's Nick At Nite, loved to air The New Adventures of Old Christine, airing nothing but the show for half of the block on weekends.
Before that, it was NickMom Night Out.
However, this case was because most of NickMom's starting shows were either ruthlessly panned by Nick Jr. viewersnote let's put it this way: the regular Nick Jr. network's target audience would be in bed by the time NickMom came around, but Nick Jr. doesn't have east coast/west coast feeds, so what airs at 10pm in the east starts at 7pm on the West Coast and 4pm in Hawaii... and viewers from the West and Hawaii expecting kid-friendly stuff like Dora were shocked to instead find such gems as women doing stand-up comedy routines about how painful their vaginae were after birthing, or The Brady Bunch reruns with snarky pop-up comments from Carol or plain ignored, so going into the archives for reruns of mom-centric shows was the best way to salvage the lineup. By March 2015 not even that was working, and during that month the Babe films seemed to be on a loop during the NickMom timeslot, along with That '70s Show reruns. Thankfully someone then realized Parenthood reruns were ready to be sold, and by the next month that show would be fruitfully airing on NickMom.
By the end of September 2015, Nickelodeon finally gave up on NickMom due to Viacom's hack-and-slash budget cuts, and the block ended quietly late in the month with an ignominious airing of the long-forgotten First Lady-guarding 90's comedy Guarding Tess, and barely any mention outside of NickMom's social media announcing the end.
Nick Jr. UK adores Peppa Pig to SpongeBob levels, airing it at least 15 times a day.
Before that, they used to love playing anything by BrittAllcroft. Thomas still airs at least four times a day, and sometimes competes with its own airings on Channel Five's Milkshake! block.
And now the American Nick Jr. channel's airing as much Peppa Pig and Ben and Holly's Little Kingdom as the UK one, alongside Paw Patrol.
Most of you probably know that Nickelodeon airs marathons of SpongeBob, but most outside of that particular area do not know that it was also prone to say that they would air marathons of The Penguins Of Madagascar.
The Teen Nick of that area was also prone to air Victorious a lot, airing it for full 3 hours on week-ends.
As of March 2015, since they got the rights to air Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa, Nick's been playing it as much as possible. It sort of makes sense, considering they air The Penguins of Madagascar on the channel.
If you had Nicktoons Network during 2006 to 2008, chances are you'd see a show called Kappa Mikey, as well as commercials for it, a lot. It got to the point where they couldn't go a single commercial break without shoving an ad for it in your face.
The short series Tortellini Western aired on Nicktoons at least ten times a day from 2004 to 2006. Similar to Cartoon Network's Johnny Test, it was an annoying and cheaply made Flash cartoon that was worshiped by the channel's management, but hated by everyone else. It was far more common to see shorts of Tortellini Western playing in-between shows than it was to see other (and considerably better) shorts such as The Presentators, Doodlez, Napman, or Edgar & Ellen.
As of October 2015, ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks is getting this treatment from the American Nickelodeon. It got to the point that Nick aired nothing but Alvin and SpongeBob during New Years 2015 into 2016. They also spent that week airing the show in blocks. It basically went 3 episodes of SpongeBob, 3 episodes of Alvin.
They did the same marathon treatment for Presidents Day weekend 2016.(Although this was mainly due to them premiering new episodes that day, to compete with the Gravity Falls series finale)
For a few years during the early 2010s, Nickelodeon channel could have easily been called "The Spongebob and FOP Channel". When they weren't airing their Kid Com series or Nick Jr cartoons, the channel was pretty much Spongebob and The Fairly Oddparents every weekday. As of 2015, Fairly Oddparents has been mostly pushed onto sister-channel Nicktoons. However, with a new season coming out, FOP has been airing on regular Nick a bit more.