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'SpongeBob SquarePants,' other Nickelodeon programs come to China online viewers in Sohu deal

BEIJING, China - "SpongeBob SquarePants" and other Nickelodeon children's programs will be dubbed into Mandarin and available to watch free online in China over the next 12 months in the latest deal to give a foreign entertainment company more access to China's vast market.

Sohu Video, a unit of popular Chinese Web portal Sohu.com, announced Thursday an online video-on-demand and video syndication collaboration in China with Viacom International Media Networks, a unit of Viacom Inc.

In a joint statement, the companies said the deal will enable an estimated 389 million Chinese online video users to watch Mandarin-dubbed and subtitled Nickelodeon programming on Sohu's site. The companies declined to say how much Sohu paid for the content.

From Sunday, Sohu Video will start to offer more than 200 hours of Nickelodeon programming, including "iconic and beloved characters" such as animated television series "SpongeBob SquarePants," ''Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles" and "Avatar."

Sohu's video site is populated with American TV shows, Japanese animation series, Chinese variety shows and in-house programs. It obtained the exclusive online broadcast rights for the second season of hit reality talent show "The Voice of China," shown earlier this year, generating nearly 2 billion video views, according to Sohu.

"The Big Bang Theory" and "Homeland" are among U.S. programs already available and popular on Sohu.

China's government restricts foreign access to the country's television audience and bars most of its cable operators from carrying foreign channels. Online video provides more access for foreign productions.

MTV, another Viacom unit, signed a deal in 2006 to distribute programming with Baidu Inc. which runs China's most popular search engine.

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Online: Sohu Video: tv.sohu.com

The Canadian Press


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