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Adored By The Network / SpongeBob SquarePants

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SpongeBob SquarePants was pretty much the poster-child for this trope (at least until Teen Titans Go! stole the sponge's thunder in 2015). Since the show began airing post-movie seasons in 2005, 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 @ 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, as well as several primetime shows, got back then. Thus it wound up becoming the highest rated children's television show for over a decade. The fact that merchandise sales were extremely high didn't hurt much either. Eventually, ratings for the show dropped - probably due to overexposure and what many fans would consider Seasonal Rot, at which point Nickelodeon attempted to restore some variety to the schedule, but by this point, the damage had been done, as The Loud House, itself now a noteworthy recipient of this treatment, was the only Nicktoon to survive the yellow sponge's reign of terror, and even as Nickelodeon cleaned up its act, Cartoon Network got new management who, as mentioned above, repeated all of Nick's mistakes with Teen Titans GO!, with the exact same results. There's also the fact that cable television is declining as a whole thanks to platforms like Netflix and YouTube getting more and more attention from kids, meaning SpongeBob doesn't have the same impact it used to. Despite all this, it still remains a favorite for Nick to this day.


Examples pertaining to marathons go here.

  • Still Nickelodeon's top show after 22 years note , and they've obviously decided to milk it for all its worth. Today, Nickelodeon's typical schedule (not counting the Nick Jr. or Nick @ Nite blocks) is comprised almost entirely of either SpongeBob or The Loud House. It's gotten so bad, the animation fandom (particularly Pan of RebelTaxi) has even coined the term "The SpongeBob Principle": If a new Nick cartoon comes out and it isn't an instant smash hit, Nickelodeon will just ignore it, never give it reruns, never promote it, move the premiere dates around and dump the last few episodes on their much less popular channel Nicktoons Network while they replace it with more SpongeBob reruns.
  • Before the show got the overexposure treatment, Nickelodeon kept tying the show into their advertising, doing everything from making blocks themed around the show (like the Summer Nicktoon Splash), having SpongeBob and Patrick do the "Favorite Cartoon" segment of the 2000 KCAs and having Patchy the Pirate appear on several episodes of U-Pick Live. It got to the point where SpongeBob characters even appeared in an ad that was played on the Nick Jr. block in 2002.
    • Speaking of KCAs, it has won for the category Best Cartoon every year it been nominated since 2003 (only Avatar the Last Airbender can beat it and that was back in 2008), much to the chagrin of many cartoon fans. The outrage grows every year (although what happened in 2008 was rather unexpected), as people believes other cartoons deserve to win a blimp for this category.
  • In November 2006, as shown by the image, the show aired a 24-hour marathon from November 9-10 which counted down the 100 best episodes, leading up to the episode "Best Day Ever" and the network premiere of The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie. Subverted in the case of the former however, as it was just a standard 11-minute episode with no major adventure whatsoever.
  • Subverted on Nicktoons as while it airs a marathon every night, the marathon is aired late at night/wee hours in the morning.
  • In January 2008, the show was on 26 hours a week.
  • 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.
  • 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 . 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 which includes shows like The Thundermans, Nicky, Ricky, Dicky, and Dawn, Henry Danger, and The Haunted Hathaways to compete with Disney.
  • And then came April 2015. 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 Prime Video, Viacom braced for major cutbacks, and among them (besides actual employees) were SpongeBob reruns. As a side effect of these cutbacks, Nickelodeon would finally embrace series from other companies for the first time in years, starting with Oggy and the Cockroaches (a show that did nothing on Fox Kids in 1998, but looked 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. It says something when Nicktoons itself aired more SpongeBob reruns in primetime than Nickelodeon itself does.
  • By November 2015, the show was airing six times a day due to the popularity of ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks. They even brought back Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2012) to the schedule after a long time of not being on the main channel. Again, it really says something when the Nicktoons Network aired more episodes of SpongeBob than the main network did.note 
  • In Australia, Nickelodeon airs around 4-5 classic episodes in the morning and 4-5 Modern episodes in the evenings.
  • In 2016, there were usually about 6-7 episodes a day in between episodes of ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks and The Loud House.
  • In 2017 or so, the usual morning to mid afternoon schedule during non-Nick Jr hours consisted of SpongeBob and The Loud House, taking up most of the weekends schedule.
  • In the UK, the Nicktoons subchannel airs nothing but SpongeBob, ALVINNN!!! and the Chipmunks and The Loud House all day.
  • Starting in July 2018, SpongeBob reruns would suddenly sneak into the early hours of Nick @ Nite.
  • For some reason, Nick seems to be fond of airing both SpongeBob movies. The 2004 movie normally aired on holidays, big events, and whenever there wasn't enough movies to play. It was being played on Nickelodeon almost every week by the time Sponge Out of Water debuted on television. It makes you wonder if Nick even acknowledges the rest of the movies they produced.
  • By August 2018, nothing but SpongeBob reruns were airing on the Nicktoons channel from 11PM to 6AM, every single day. Nick Australia and New Zealand also does the same overnight marathon shtick.
  • On the day of the 53rd Super Bowl, "The Secret Box / Band Geeks" played several times throughout the day. It was also played every day after the game that week, more than likely due to the outcry from the Sweet Victory/Sicko Mode Bait-and-Switch.
  • On TV Osaka, the show is one of two animated programs to air every single day (the other being re-runs of Yo-Kai Watch).
  • Ever since February of 2019, Nickelodeon has taken to airing "Something Smells; Bossy Boots" every other morning, usually before the Nick Jr. block.
  • The Pluto TV Nickelodeon channel is a weird case of this: while SpongeBob is the most-aired program with 11 airings a day, it's sandwiched in between 90 minute to 2 hour long blocks of other shows. Compare this to the actual channel itself, which usually airs it as much as two to four hours in a row.
    • The latino Nick Pluto TV channel has an odd obsession with Naughty Nautical Neighbors/Boating School.
  • This happened a lot the week SpongeBob's Birthday Blowout premiered:
    • There was a slight increase in re-runs of the show that week, which took over slots for other shows like The Loud House, Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? and Cousins For Life, to promote the special.
    • Double Dare had a week themed around SpongeBob, something which hasn't happened before for any Nicktoon.
    • The special itself got this treatment even after airing. In a similar treatment to several special episodes of fellow Nickelodeon series PAW Patrol and The Loud House, Nick aired the special not only every single day after its premiere, but twice on every Friday, Saturday and Sunday of the month after the premiere.
  • From June to August 2020, Nicktoons added an additional four hours of SpongeBob to their weekday schedule, which made for roughly half of Nicktoons' weekday schedule being dedicated to nothing but SpongeBob reruns.
  • CBS All Access keeps frequently promoting their service by using this show as the face of it. It's justified, as the show is Viacom's biggest cash cow and the third movie will premiere on there.
    • On the topic of Sponge On The Run, the ads for the film frequently appeared in the ad slots of online websites and were inescapable. They also frequently aired on television networks such as CBS (which Viacom owns) and Freeform.
  • It's spinoff series is getting lots of adoration, as it airs once a day on both Nickelodeon and Nicktoons. Kamp Koral would soon follow suite.
  • On YTV in Canada, the show has had two slots in its flagship afternoon block The Zone, and marathons of it have often replaced programming that was supposed to air (usually anime), much to the disappointment of anime fans.