SpongeBob Squarepants is 13 years old—and it may finally have dried out. The show's ratings plummeted 29% in the first quarter among kids ages 2 to 11, compared to the year before. That's bad news for Nickelodeon as a whole: The show made up 31% of Nick's schedule last year, reaching 40% late in the year, reports the Wall Street Journal. That, in turn, is a serious issue for parent Viacom: Nickelodeon accounts for 15% of its operating profit, and the network's overall ratings dropped 25% during the quarter.
The Journal points to a few possible problems: It could be too old, or it may simply be on TV too often. Another issue could be its licensing to Netflix last year. Ratings began rapidly sinking soon after the movie site added a "just for kids" section. The network, however, says it isn't worried. The show "remains the number one rated animated series in all of kids' television and there is nothing that we have seen that points to SpongeBob as a problem," says a rep. (Read more SpongeBob stories.)