Following the success of Avatar: The Last Airbender’s return to Netflix earlier this year, Nickelodeon’s spinoff The Legend of Korra is also heading to the streaming service on August 14th in the United States.
Developed as a sequel to Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Legend of Korra ran on Nickelodeon between 2012 and 2014. The show followed Korra, a new Avatar and successor to Avatar: The Last Airbender’s Aang, and was praised for its boundary-pushing sociopolitical themes. The Legend of Korra was also praised for its LGBTQ+ themes, especially for a children’s cartoon series that aired on Nickelodeon.
The Legend of Korra is a big deal for ViacomCBS, but it could be just as big of a deal for Netflix. When Avatar: The Last Airbender landed on Netflix in May, it quickly became one of Netflix’s most popular titles, according to the streamer’s trending row. Outside of Netflix, dedicated Avatar filters started appearing on Instagram, and TikTok content related to the show started popping up. People who had never seen the show (read: me) dove in and marathoned the series, while longtime fans used its resurgence on Netflix to watch it again. Now, with The Legend of Korra heading to Netflix, the streamer could see another surge of views.
Some people may ask, “If Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are such big shows for ViacomCBS, why are the series going to Netflix?” (The show is also available to stream via Nickelodeon’s add-on NickHits channel on Amazon Prime Video.) ViacomCBS has its own streaming service, CBS All Access, where The Legend of Korra will continue to stream, the company confirmed to The Verge.
Similar to NBCUniversal (Peacock) and WarnerMedia (HBO Max), ViacomCBS owns an impressive amount of IP. If ViacomCBS can license a show like The Legend of Korra to Netflix for an attractive price, it makes sense for ViacomCBS to give up the show for a certain window of time. In this particular deal, ViacomCBS doesn’t have to give up the show at all.
Licensing is an aspect of ViacomCBS’s streaming business that CEO Bob Bakish has addressed multiple times in the past. Bakish told people gathered at the Credit Suisse Virtual Communications Conference in June that ViacomCBS “will not license critical mass of any of our key programming areas — areas like sci-fi, kids or procedurals — to any single player,” according to Deadline. Bakish added that the company “will prioritize franchise IP to our owned and operated platforms.”
That’s kind of true, but ViacomCBS has ongoing relationships with Netflix — the streamer is making a new Spongebob Squarepants spinoff — and ViacomCBS is also licensing some of its titles to competitors like Peacock. Earlier in the year, Bakish told analysts on an earnings call that the company’s “strategy is to maximize the value of content by reaching the largest addressable audience,” as reported by CNBC. That means looking at IP on a case-by-case basis. Star Trek is unlikely to end up on Netflix (although shows are added to other streamers like Amazon Prime Video), for example. But licensing out The Legend of Korra might make more strategic sense for ViacomCBS — and Netflix.
What is most interesting about Netflix becoming a new home (at least in the US) for Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra is that new generations of fans will see the titles as Netflix series. Even though The Legend of Korra is on both, Netflix has more than 72 million subscribers. CBS All Access has over 11 million. It’s more likely that people will come to watch the show on Netflix. The shows then become synonymous with the streaming platform, even with the Nickelodeon logo still attached. It’s similar to what happened with AMC and Breaking Bad, where Netflix helped find a new and growing audience for Breaking Bad — but that audience started thinking of Breaking Bad as a Netflix show, not an AMC original.
Regardless, the bottom line is two of Nickelodeon’s most beloved shows are finally going to be streaming on Netflix at the same time. There’s always time for another marathon.
Update July 21st, 2:38pm ET: The story has been updated to note that The Legend of Korra will not leave CBS All Access, but will stream on both Netflix and CBS All Access.