Nick's 'SpongeBob' telepic soaks up Monday viewers

No. 1 cable entertainment program

Nearly 9 million viewers soaked up the first "SpongeBob SquarePants" TV movie Monday night on Nickelodeon.

The audience for "SpongeBob Atlantis SquarePantis" was the biggest ever for a "SpongeBob" program, according to Nielsen Media Research. The series debuted in July 1999.

The music-filled movie, which features David Bowie, also helped give the network its highest-rated total-day audience of the year with kids 2-11 and kids 6-11 and ranked as the No. 1 cable entertainment program of the night among total viewers.

The movie, which aired at 8 p.m., averaged 4.8 million viewers among kids 2-11. It also pulled in 3.3 million in the 6-11 demo and 2.6 million tweens 9-14.

In addition, the "Atlantis SquarePantis" show page on has received 4.2 million visits since its launch (Oct. 17-Nov. 12), with the online game "Bus Rush" seeing more than 2.7 million game plays since its Nov. 1 launch.