Bad news for Netflix subscribers: SpongeBob is going away

If you’re a Netflix subscriber, get ready to have your kids say goodbye to  SpongeBob SquarePants and Dora the Explorer.

Amid all the hoopla about Netflix’s earnings today, investors may have missed this tidbit: the company is losing — or, as Netflix puts it, letting expire — another big content deal, this time with Viacom.

The deal, which gives Netflix the rights to stream content from Nickelodeon, BET and MTV, runs out at the end of May. In a letter to shareholders, Netflix executives said that they are trying to license particular shows from Viacom, but haven’t reached any kind of agreement yet.

The company tried to put a positive spin on the development. The Viacom deal is a broad-based one, giving it access to a wide range of shows. But Netflix has been more selective lately, company officials said.

“As we continue to focus on exclusive and curated content, our willingness to pay for non-exclusive, bulk content deals declines,” officials said in the letter.

And while Netflix is losing access to Viacom shows such as SpongeBob, its recent deals with Disney and Dreamworks Animation means that it has other kids’ content to offer.

But try telling that to your kids when they’re clamoring for Dora this summer.

Troy Wolverton Troy Wolverton (262 Posts)

Troy writes the Tech Files column as the Personal Technology Columnist at the San Jose Mercury News. He also covers the digital media, mobile and video game industries and writes occasionally about Apple, chips, social networking and other aspects of technology. Previously, Troy covered Apple and the consumer electronics industry. Prior to joining the Mercury News, Troy reported on technology, business and financial issues for TheStreet.com and CNET News.com.