Nick Soaks Up 20 More SpongeBob Episodes

Kids and adults who can’t get enough of Nickelodeon’s SpongeBobSquarePants will get a chance to see 20 new episodes next year.

New installments of the Emmy Award-nominated series -- the No. 1 show among kids for the past three years -- are expected to premiere sometime in the first quarter.

With the new shows, executive-produced by SpongeBob SquarePants creator Stephen Hillenburg, there will be a total of 80 SpongeBob episodes, broken down into a pair of two 11-minute segments.

Launched in July 1999, the show -- which airs on Nick seven days per week -- has been the top-rated kids’ show on television for 11 consecutive quarters, according to the network.

On a cumulative basis, nearly 60 million viewers tune into the show each month, including 23.4 million kids 2-11, 13.4 million tweens 9-14 and 27.1 million adults 18-plus, according to Nielsen Media Research data.

Currently, more adults are watching SpongeBob than at any other point in the show's history, Nick officials said.

“What could be better than announcing that the world's most beloved and optimistic sea sponge is coming back with 20 new episodes?” Nickelodeon Television president Cyman Zarghami said in a prepared statement. “SpongeBob is the most successful property in our 25-year history, and we're thrilled to bring his fans more adventures from Bikini Bottom. And maybe he'll finally get his driver's license.”

A theatrical, The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie, from Nickelodeon Movies Paramount Pictures, will be released Nov. 19.