With a decade in the books, Nickelodeon will keep the fresh episodes of SpongeBob SquarePants coming a lot longer.
Nickelodeon, in conjunction with the series' 10th anniversary, has ordered 26 new installments from its animation studios in Burbank, Calif. The pick-up -- featuring the original voice cast of Tom Kenny as SpongeBob, Bill Fagerbakke as Patrick, Rodger Bumpass as Squidward, Clancy Brown as Mr. Krabs and Carolyn Lawrence as Sandy Cheeks -- will lift the series' count to 178 episodes.
"After a decade on our air, SpongeBob has emerged as one of the most beloved and popular characters in television history," said Brown Johnson, president, animation, Nickelodeon/MTVN Kids & Family Group in a statement." Audiences of all ages have fallen in love with this show and we're delighted to be serving up additional original episodes to our viewers for many years."
The announcement comes a little more than a month after the SpongeBob "Truth or Square" 10th anniversary special averaged 7.7 million total viewers on Nov. 6, ranking as basic-cable's number-one entertainment show for the week of Nov. 3-9. In 2009, SpongeBob SquarePants has drawn more than 75 million viewers monthly and has extended its skein as being the top animated series among kids 2 to 11 to a seventh year, according to Nick officials. Shown in 171 markets in 26 languages, SpongeBob is the most widely distributed property in MTV Networks' history.
This holiday season, SpongeBob is continue to spread his cheer with "Don't Be a Jerk (It's Christmas!)" song that is available on Nick Records' "SpongeBob's Greatest Hits CD."