Throwback Thursday: Nickelodeon or Disney?

Nickelodeon or Disney Channel?

As a child, that was a serious debate among kids. Before such references as “team this” or “team that,” you simply stated your favorite station. For some kids, a channel preference was due to programming: the shows and original movies. For others, it was the characters or simply the logo. (Some preferred slime and splats; others preferred Mickey Mouse Ears). Now Nickelodeon has spawned off several other TV channels such as Nicktoons, Nick Jr., TeenNick and TVLand, while Disney has Disney XD and Disney Junior. Unlike ’90s children, those adolescents who don’t have cable can still access today’s shows on the Internet or through NetFlix. Despite the growing networks and plethora of programming for children, ’90s kids still argue that their Nickelodeon and Disney Channel were better than those of today. This Throwback Thursday, we’ll take  a look at the history of these two networks and what made them such strong rivals.



Originally introduced in the 1977, Nickelodeon, or known during its first two years as The Pinwheel Network, was often deemed the first kid’s network even with competition from Disney Channel and Cartoon Network. Although Nickelodeon had success, the bulk of their success and what they’re known for began in the early 1990s through the 2000s. With the start of Nickelodeon magazine, Nickelodeon released several successful shows including Doug, Rugrats, Are you Afraid of the Dark?, The Amanda Show, Kenan & Kel and several others. Nickelodeon was fantastic at creating original series. In the early 2000s, they even came out with their most successful original series to date, SpongeBob SquarePants. In 2012, Nickelodeon’s 17-year reign as the highest-rated cable network in total day viewership ended and was replaced by none other than the Disney Channel. Consequently, Nickelodeon has had major management changes during the last year. In the course of their 17-year run at number one, Nickelodeon made a lasting impression among children.

To test your knowledge of Nick shows, see if you can name the shows based on their theme songs:



You can check your answers here.


Disney Channel

Launched nationally as a premium channel, The Disney Channel debuted in 1983. In its early days, the Disney Channel featured original programs and other TV series that were acquired from its sister network, Buena Vista Television, and hosted several classic Disney movies and cartoons. The network also created The New Mickey Mouse Club (1989-1995)–which introduced the talents of many young stars including JC Chasez, Keri Russell, Christina Aguilera, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake. In 1997, during Nickelodeon’s heyday, Disney underwent a rather large rebranding. With its new look, Disney Channel simply became Disney, and provided a host of several new original series including The Famous Jett Jackson, So Weird, Even Stevens and Lizzie McGuire. Recently, Disney featured a lesbian couple for the first time on the network in an episode of Good Luck, Charlie (prompting complaints from OneMillionMoms). While Nickelodeon dominated original series for a majority of the ’90s, Disney always did better than Nickelodeon in one category: the creation and production of great original movies. These movies include but are not limited to Under Wraps, Brink!, Halloweentown, Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century, Can of Worms, Smart House, Johnny Tsunami, Don’t Look Under the Bed, Phantom of the Megaplex, The Luck of the Irish and High School Musical.

Who remembers the Zoogs, the Zeether and the indication that Disney was about to play a movie?



Sadly, Nickelodeon and Disney aren’t quite what they used to be. Just ask any ’90s kid. Neither of these stations lives up to the content produced in the late 1990s and early 2000s, but it still begs the question, which are you…

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Cover Photo Source: Vidhishah123 via Wikimedia Commons



[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Kevin is a Junior Executive at SJG. He is currently working towards a degree in Advertising and a minor in Spanish at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Outside the office, you can be sure he’s commuting back and forth to Champaign for other work with his radio station at school. [/author_info] [/author]