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Disney Channel VS Nickelodeon: Battle of the Channels!

VO: Rebecca Brayton WRITTEN BY: Andrew Tejada
Don’t change that channel, you’re in for a primetime showdown. For this showdown, we’ll be looking at everything from animated characters to zany theme songs to determine who deserves the broadcast crown. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re having Disney Channel go head-to-head with Nickelodeon to see which youth-centric network reigns supreme.

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Disney Channel VS Nickelodeon: Battle of the Channels!

Don’t change that channel, you’re in for a primetime showdown. Welcome to MsMojo, and today we’re having Disney Channel go head-to-head with Nickelodeon to see which youth-centric network reigns supreme.

For this showdown, we’ll be looking at everything from animated characters to zany theme songs to determine who deserves the broadcast crown.
Round 1: Animated Shows
Disney Channel has created several breakout animated series. The early 2000s gave us everything from the“Proud Family”, which refreshingly centered on an empowered young black woman, to the action-packed “Kim Possible”, which was nominated for multiple Annie Awards. More recent award-winning shows such as “Gravity Falls” and the musical “Phineas and Ferb” are proof that the channel’s still creating fantastic programming. Furthermore, Disney has taken a few animated movies and turned them into series that actually live up to the original film. Whether the cartoon takes place in a new or familiar place, the quality is consistently high.

While Nickelodeon has adapted a few feature films into series, their original animated shows are their biggest selling point. Popular Nicktoons like the magical “Fairly Oddparents”, and the beloved “Spongebob Squarepants” were each successful enough to run for ten years or more. Between those two shows alone, Nickelodeon has taken home ten Annie awards. Although later shows like “Invader Zim” and “Avatar the Last Airbender” didn’t have decade long runs, they made up for it by earning Annie awards and critical acclaim. If the hugely positive reception of 2016’s “Loud House” is any indication of the future, Nickelodeon will continue to produce beloved animated shows for years to come.

Although both networks have a lot of solid animation to offer, Nickelodeon has stronger numbers to back its reputation. “Avatar the Last Airbender” and “Spongebob Squarepants” have earned five or more Annie Awards each. In addition, the yellow sponge’s nearly twenty year-run is leagues ahead of any cartoon’s time on the Disney Channel. Nickelodeon's animation dominates the first round.

WINNER: “Disney Channel” 0/ “Nickelodeon” 1

Round 2: Live Action TV Shows
The live action shows on Disney Channel have a wide range of stories to tell. A superstar hid her identity on “Hannah Montana”, spells went haywire on “Wizards of Waverly Place” and the future was revealed on “That’s So Raven.” Although Disney’s series bring lots of laughs, they aren’t afraid to tackle complex issues as well. In their recent hit “Andi Mack”, a plotline about a young boy coming out as gay earned the show the first ever GLAAD award for LGBT representation on a children’s show. Disney Channel’s ability to be entertaining while pushing boundaries makes their live action offerings hard to overlook.

In the ‘90s, Nickelodeon was the place to be for a variety of great live action shows. Kids dreamed of being slimed on “Double Dare”. They shuddered at “Are you Afraid of the Dark?”, and sketch shows like “All That” had them rolling with laughter. In the 21st century, Nickelodeon has doubled down on comedies. Hit shows like “Drake and Josh” and “ICarly”. brought in viewers with their zany scenarios and offbeat sense of humor. Their success led to Nickelodeon adopting a similar comedy formula to other programs with… unfortunately mixed results. Despite a few missteps, the popular 2018 revival of “Double Dare” shows that the network’s live action fare can still pull in plenty of viewers.

Nickelodeon’s live action shows have always been fun, but their modern selection doesn’t live up to the heights of their earlier days. While Disney Channel’s selection isn’t flawless, their attempts to break new ground in children’s tv are praiseworthy and inspiring. Disney’s live action shows give us the best of both worlds and take this round.

WINNER: “Disney Channel” 1 / “Nickelodeon” 1

Round 3: Original Movies
We have three words for you: “High School Musical”. The musical sensation is just one of many Disney Channel Original movies, or “dcoms” for short, to launch a franchise. Other notable franchises include “Cheetah Girls”, “Halloweentown” and the “Descendants”. If you’re more into self-contained stories, films like “The Luck of the Irish” and “Cadet Kelly” are full of campy fun as well as important messages. With over 100 movies to the channel’s name and millions of viewers, it seems impossible to go your entire life without tuning into at least one Disney Channel Original movie.

When it comes to movies, Nickelodeon leans heavily on its original series. Whether they serve as special adventures like “ICarly: IGo to Japan” or a chance to wrap up fan questions like “Hey Arnold! The Jungle Movie”, the films often make their parent series look even better. Although Nickelodeon has a few original movies under its belt, the quality of those outings has been…uneven. But if we can keep getting amazing crossover specials like the “Jimmy/Timmy Power Hour” and the return of fan favorites with specials like the “Invader Zim” movie, then Nickelodeon can make whatever movies they choose.

Nickelodeon has made a valiant effort with their movies, but dcoms have them beat in terms of volume, variety and overall viewership “High School Musical 2” alone pulled in 17 million viewers when it premiered. Sorry, Nick, but we’re going to watch a Disney Channel movie this time around.

Round 4: Iconic TV Characters
If you’re looking for relatable characters with special talents, Disney Channel’s got you covered. Whether we’re following Raven’s futuristic visions or Miley trying to keep her singing career under wraps, Disney features people who live extraordinary lives while dealing with ordinary problems. Although it takes a while for characters to learn from their mistakes, most of them grow over time. One of the best demonstrations of character relatability and growth can be found on “Kim Possible”. As the titular character fights through the forces of evil and trials of high school, she matures without losing the characteristics that made her unique.

We bet that most ‘90s kids could name the four main “Rugrats” without thinking. The animated babies are just a fraction of Nickelodeon’s iconic character roster. Doug, Danny Phantom and Timmy Turner have each earned their place in pop culture with their distinct personalities and designs. Characters like Danny Fenton, Aang and Korra have become popular on the strength of their complex personalities and astonishing growth. But if we’re talking about iconic characters on Nick, Spongebob reigns supreme. Outside of his show, he’s appeared in video games, movie theaters and even a Broadway musical. Not bad for someone who lives in a pineapple.

There simply isn’t a character on either network that is as present in pop culture as Spongebob. He may not be the most nuanced character, but he’s still one of the most recognizable toons today. Since Spongebob lives on Nick, they’ll take the round and tie the score.
WINNER: “Disney Channel” 2 / “Nickelodeon” 2

Round 5: Theme Songs
Narrowing down the best songs from these children’s networks was no easy task. On Disney Channel, “Phineas and Ferb” gave us a delightful earworm for an intro. “Proud Family” debuted with a soulful song that people still reference. And “Hannah Montana” had a pop rock theme that charted on the Billboard Hot 100. We still have the epic “Kim Possible” opening and the “That’s So Raven” rap breakdown memorized to this day. All these songs got us excited for the shows that we were about to see by detailing the premise in the lyrics while simultaneously crafting tunes that we still wanted to hear when away from our television.

Over on Nickelodeon, there were multiple songs that stuck with us despite having little to no words at all. From the jazzy “Hey Arnold” theme to the sublime “Rugrats” opening, these shows created catchy melodies without the need for a lot of exposition. When Nickelodeon chose to go the more lyrical route, they delivered with songs like the toe-tapping “Fairly Oddparents” theme and the Billboard charting “Leave it All to Me” from “iCarly.” The network’s willingness to experiment with a range of different musical styles gave each show its own sense of identity while building hype for what was coming up next.

Each network has its share of unforgettable themes. But in the end, the large amount of lyrical Disney Channel songs gave the channel a slight edge. While we love pieces like the Rugrats theme on Nick, they aren’t as remarkable without their show’s animation behind it. The majority of Disney Channel’s opening songs are specific enough for their shows but also relatable enough to be played on the radio. Disney Channel takes the musical crown and this round.
WINNER: “Disney Channel” 3/ “Nickelodeon” 2

Sorry Nickelodeon, but with a score of 3 to 2, Disney Channel is the last network standing in this showdown.


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