Started in 1977 as Pinwheel and then again in 1981 as Nickelodeon, Viacom's cartoon channel gained success in the late 1990s and early 2000s and has grown to become one of the most successful American cable television channels of all times. Nickelodeon averages over 1.6 million viewers daily and according to their site, they are seen in over 80 million homes worldwide.
Nickelodeon's programming varies greatly during prime time and early/late hours. Shows such as Hay Arnold, the Rugrats, and Doug all gained success on Nickelodeon in the early 1990s and have since been replaced with shows like iCarly, Dreak & Josh, SpongeBob, and True Jackson.
Nickelodeon has four sister channels that are geared to more specific audiences. Nick Jr. is aimed at children of preschool age and is available in the United States. Nicktoons plays classical cartoons during the early hours of the morning and regular Nickelodeon cartoons during prime time. As the name suggest TeenNick is geared towards a teenage audience and has fewer cartoons then its sister channels.
In 2005 Nickelodeon came under fire from evangelical groups including James Dobson of focus on the family and John Tomas of the United Church of Christ. The situation arose after Nickelodeon's character SpongeBob was featured in a children's program promoting diversity and tolerance. The situation was resolved later and John Thomas said he would gladly welcome SpongeBob. He was quoted as saying "Jesus didn't turn people away. Neither do we"
All things considered Nickelodeon is one of the "better" channels to let your children watch. Their cartoons do not contain as much violence as some of it counterparts out there and they even have Nick at Nite which usually plays movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. Nickelodeon is far from perfect but it comes pretty darn close.