Cartoon sweeps ratings on CCTV

BEIJING — Are you ready, kids?

“SpongeBob SquarePants” has swept to the top of the ratings on Chinese state broadcaster CCTV’s Kids Channel. The quirky toon has become the most popular children’s show in 15 key cities, drawing viewership of 20.5 million to Bikini Bottom.

SpongeBob, Patrick, Sandy and friends, who are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, have proven a big hit with Chinese auds since bowing in 2006.

The success of “SpongeBob SquarePants” comes despite the fact the toon is not shown until 9 p.m. (In an effort to boost the domestic animation industry, the Chinese government has banned foreign product to the period after peak viewing times.)

However, it does not seem to have made a big impact on the relentlessly cheerful sponge. Since SpongeBob picked up his spatula again at the Krusty Krab on Christmas Day, he has swatted aside the competition, said MTV Asia in a statement. Show is No. 1 among kids 4-14, according to CSM Media Research.

A breakdown of viewers between Dec. 25 and Feb. 4 shows that 45% of SpongeBob’s audience are ages 4-14, while one-third of SpongeBob fans in China are 25-44.

CCTV Kids Channel ranks No. 1 among children, unsurprisingly, but is also the fourth most popular of all CCTV channels among women 25-44.

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