Hot on the heels of the Disney Channel library going live on Disney+ and Cartoon Network being slated for HBO Max, Nickelodeon and Netflix have settled on a multi-year streaming deal.
Now, at long last, all the archives of the Big Three '90s cartoon channels––Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon––will be available for 24/7 streaming. Thus begins the official Cartoon Wars of 2019.
See, if you actually want to be able to access all three archives at any given time, you'll be spending $35 per month across all three subscription services. Us millennials can barely afford an avocado toast, let alone three separate streaming platforms. But let's be honest, nobody actually likes Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, and Nickelodeon equally, anyways. One of them is clearly better than the other two.
If you grew up watching '90s cartoons, reading that last sentence gave you a visceral gut reaction, guaranteed.
Maybe your first thought was something like: "I loved Gargoyles, that show was bomb. Disney Channel ftw."
Or maybe your reaction was more personal, echoing something deeper: "Rugrats formed the very foundation of my childhood. Chuckie's relationship with his father informed my own experience growing up in a single-parent household after my mother's tragic death when I was very young."
Too bad you'd be wrong in both of those scenarios. The best channel was Cartoon Network. Why? Because Cartoon Network had everything. Genius boy scientist doing wacky experiments? Dexter's Laboratory. Female empowerment superhero narrative? Powerpuff Girls. Oh, and don't forget Samurai Jack, which won eight Primetime Emmy Awards.
And let's not even get into Adult Swim, which kept the cartoon goodness going late into the night. Without a doubt, Cartoon Network was the superior source for all things cartoons.
All joking aside, it's exciting to finally have all the best cartoons from our childhoods streaming at our fingertips. But at the same time, I can't help but feel that when everything is set up on competing platforms, we're finally reaching a point when streaming has come full circle.
Netflix's biggest disruption to the classic TV model was its ability to give viewers so much content that was available anytime they wanted it, all in one place. Why would anyone need a cable subscription when so many great shows were available on demand for a cheaper price?
But now that there are so many competing streaming platforms breaking different content up across different subscription platforms, we've circled back into a bastardized "channel" model. We're essentially paying for premium channels all over again.
In a twist fully reflective of our capitalist hellscape, the enhanced corporate competition to get our money for accessible content has ultimately made said content increasingly less accessible. Moreover, they all get a lot more of our data now, which means that on top of returning to what essentially amounts to a feudal channel system, we're also giving companies a lot more access to our personal info. Good thing they're only using our nostalgia-driven data to peddle us more harmless nostalgia though, right?
Still, it's nice to have so many beloved cartoons, at the very least, available. And while I might not keep every subscription going long-term, I certainly look forward to abusing a few free trials.