Rainbow (TV Network)

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March 1st, 1991 (Original)
NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment Group (Comcast) (50%)
WildBrain (50%)
Unleash Your Inner Rainbow
Broadcast area
United States
Original languages
Sister channels

Rainbow is a pay television channel in the United States jointly owned by NBCUniversal through its Cable Entertainment Group and WildBrain through their in-name Cookie Jar Entertainment group. The channel was launched on March 4, 1991 and is aimed mainly at children and young teenagers between ages 6 and 17. Its programming consists of original first-run television series, theatrical and home media-exclusive movies, and select other third-party programming.

As of June 2022, Rainbow is available to 92.7 million households in America.



On July 5, 1990, MCA announced its plans to launch a cable television channel focused on animation created by a joint deal between DIC Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Nelvana, Weston Woods, and Paramount Pictures. On October 8, 1990, its name was revealed to be Rainbow, a referencing the colorful nature of it and animation, and the block Toon in for the Tunes, devoted to short films, was also announced. It was also reported that they would acquire its animated programming from different studios.

Early Years

On March 4, 1991, Rainbow was launched with the inaugural program being the special Madeline's Rescue and was themed to each block. Its first major success was Toon In for the Tunes, which was a launchpad for various Rainbow original series. The channel hit increasing ratings, such as competition from Nickelodeon, The Disney Channel and later Cartoon Network.

The channel made its first two hit series The Toy Stronghold and Makayla Mitchell in 1993, which became an instant success and made it a household name for viewers. Additionally, it introduced two mascots named Lilly and Larry (with Rainbow dropping Larry in 2014), a duo of two talking music notes. In 1994, the channel followed The Toy Stronghold with Candy Candle, another spin-off of sorts from a short on Toon in for the Toons. Earlier, Rainbow partnered with Sony Wonder to release episode compilations of the network's programs, which became top sellers before switching its distributor to Universal Pictures Home Entertainment in 1999, with Universal re-releasing previous episode compilations of the network's shows on VHS. The channel achieved further success in 1994 with The Adventures of Doctor DJ and Futurefortress, both of which spun off from Toon in for the Tunes in order to boost the channel's ratings.

The late 90s and Early 2000s

In 1995, the channel premiered the series Wacky Wednesday, an adaptation of the book of the same name which was considered to be the network's first failure due to the show become questionable for Rainbow. The following year, it launched a programming block in order to compete with Nickelodeon: Color Splash, which targeted preschoolers. Color Splash at launch mostly aired Weston Woods shorts.

In 1998, Rainbow debuted a show that would change the network's landscape as everyone knew it. On August 22, 1998, Melody and the Mariposa Band made its debut and was met with an extremely large fanfare and evolved into the network's most successful show and as of June 2022, it is one of the two shows on the network that made its debut in the 20th Century that is still in production with the other being Makayla Mitchell.

In 1999, Rainbow launched the DIC Power Hour block. A block focusing on DIC Entertainment shows that would air on Sunday nights. This would become a hit among the anti-Saturday morning group and later that year they premiered Perry's Pinball, a comedy series that would also be considered a failure due to low ratings.

In 2004, NBC and Universal merged together, creating NBCUniversal, which combined NBC's children's network NBC Family and Rainbow to produce the Rainbow Inc.

Modern Era

In 2005, Rainbow revamped its programming identity, with the new slogan "Colorful!". The channel also debuted several programming including Madison's Tales (an anthology series based on Fairy tales and myths), Mecharang (a comedy series focusing on a Robot and their pet Boomerang), Class of the Titans, and Strawberry Shortcake. In 2006, Rainbow would start to air various anime programming (which would lead to the launch of Anizone) and gained the North American rights to Doraemon, Anpanman, Astro Boy, and Digimon among other anime.

In 2008, Rainbow launched Rainbow Nebula (A sci-fi series about a group of seven stars). That same year, Rainbow's long-running Mecharang ended. The success led to Rainbow ordering more shows, and it acquired the series Being Ian in 2009. Also, Perry's Pinball finished its run on the network.

In 2011, Comcast acquired NBCUniversal from Vivendi allowing Sprout to join the Rainbow Inc. to celebrate, Rainbow introduced Slimy Friends, a female-oriented show about a group of slimes bonding with each other that would air on all three networks.

In 2017 was considered to be the biggest year for the network in terms of events. First in March, Aquateens (a series revolving around a teenage bass who mysteriously transforms into a Mermaid and fights evil), Fred and the Wacky Foxoids (a series revolving around Fred, a white stickman recruiting a group of Fox-like creatures known as Foxoids), and a reboot to Madeline. Later in July, the network introduced DreamWorksTV, a block dedicated to DreamWorks and by far the biggest change to Rainbow was that in September of that year, Sprout and NBC Family merged to create Universal Kids.


Main article: TV:List of programs broadcast by Rainbow

Programming on Rainbow includes original series such as Toon In for the Tunes!, Madison's Tales, Melody and the Mariposa Band, Madeline, Scholastic Book Club, The Iron Ranger, Fred and the Wacky Foxoids, Aquateens, and Makayla Mitchell, as well as acquired programming from other studios, which as of June 2022 includes The Adventures of Paddington, Pokémon Journeys, Cupcake & Dino: General Services, Inspector Gadget (2015), Larva, Little Women, Woody Woodpecker (2018), Swiss Family Robison, Anne of Green Gables, Supa Strikas, Digimon Adventure:, Doraemon, and My Little Pony: Pony Life.

Programming blocks


  • Color Splash – Color Splash (formerly known as Color Splash by Rainbow from 1996 to 2005) is a weekday programming block that airs from Mondays to Fridays from 8 AM to 1 PM and primarily targets preschoolers and kindergarteners ages 2-6. It has been on the air since September 1996.
  • Thundercloud – Thundercloud is Rainbow's nighttime block. Launched in 1999 as a way to attract adults, Thundercloud airs from 9:30 PM to 5:30 AM and primary features animated and live-action programming targeting the 18-34 audience.
  • DreamWorksTV – DreamWorksTV is Rainbow's DreamWorks themed programming block that was launched in July 2017 and features movies and shows by DreamWorks and DreamWorks Classics. The block airs every Sunday morning from 8 AM to Noon.
  • Movie Night - Movie Night is a Saturday night movie block. It starts at 7 PM and ends at 9:30 PM.
  • KEWLopolis - KEWLopolis (initially launched as DiC Toon Time and later known as Cookie Jar Toons on Rainbow, Team Toon, and WildBrain Kids) is a programming block that launched in 2005 as a replacement of DiC Power Hour. Originally running on weeknights from 6 to 8 PM, the block would (temporary) move to Saturday mornings starting in August 2022 before returning to its original slots as a evening weekday block starting on April 29, 2024 serving as a counterpart to Thundercloud's late-night Back to the Past block.


  • DIC Power Hour – DIC Power Hour was a former programming block owned by DIC Entertainment that was launched in 1999 and aired on Sunday nights. The block was discontinued in 2005 and was replaced by a weeknight block known as DiC Toon Time.
  • Anizone - Anizone was Rainbow's action and anime-themed block. Launched in 2006, the block primarily focused on TV-PG rated anime and targeted young men. The block was discontinued in July 2020 and was revived a year later on Thundercloud.
  • Friday Night Roulette - Introduced in 1999, Friday Night Roulette was a programming block where children and teens around the United States submit what they want to air on the block. Five shows are randomly selected, and the winner would air for a 3-hour marathon and the runner-up program would air via a two-hour block the following Saturday branded as "Friday Night Memories". The block was discontinued in 2020 due to the launch of Peacock.

Cross-programming with other networks

Rainbow is known for typically airing their shows on other TV networks.

  • From 1993 until 1997, Rainbow signed a deal with ABC to air some of their shows (both first-party and third-party) on Saturday morning. The block ended in 1997 with ABC's merger with Disney.
  • Shortly after cutting ties with ABC, Rainbow launched a syndicated block known as "The Rainbow Kids Network" that aired on affiliates of The WB and UPN (and by proxy, The CW and MyNetworkTV) from 1997 until 2014. The block ended on September 28, 2014 (one day after Vortexx closed down) after being ordered by Comcast to discontinue the block to promote their cable service Xfinity. Rainbow Kids Network also aired on Ion Television from 2008 to 2012.
  • In 2018, Rainbow partnered with MGM to air several of their shows on their free-to-air network Light TV. Several of Rainbow's shows, including the famous Melody and the Mariposa Band (which couldn't air on Rainbow Kids Network due to it not being e/i enough) they aired on weekdays before Light TV ceased operations in 2021 being replaced by TheGrio.TV.
  • Several Rainbow shows also aired on TV network NBC (before the network's merger with Universal) often to promote or celebrate an occasion. Often to promote a movie or special.

Related media and projects

See also: List of Rainbow merchandise

Mobile apps

Rainbow released a free mobile app for smartphones and tablet computers operating on the Apple and Android platforms in December 2012. Much like other TV everywhere apps, Rainbow offered select episodes from their more popular shows for free, but the grand majority of episodes were locked behind cable access.

The Rainbow Inc.

Main article: The Rainbow Inc.

The Rainbow Inc. is a production firm located in North Hollywood, California, which serves as the animation facilities for many of the network's animated programming along with other Universal programming.

Rainbow Kid Vid

Rainbow Kid Vid is the video game publisher of video games and Home Media distributer based on Rainbow shows since 1998 and are currently published by THQNordic. From 1998 until 2005, Kid Vid also produced "The Best of Rainbow" compilations onto VHS and DVD featuring popular episodes selected by children across the United States.

Starry Nights

Starry Nights is a motion picture production unit that was founded in 2000, as a secondary feature animation division of Universal Pictures. The studio has produced films based on Rainbow animated programs including Melody's Big Show, Mechrang: Mecha-Return!, Madison's Mega Tale, and Lilly and Larry: Musical Hour.

Video games

Main article: List of Rainbow video games


  • "Tune in for the Toons" (1991-1994)
  • "Colorful like a Rainbow" (1994-1999)
  • "Surprise!" (1999-2005)
  • "Colorful!" (2005-2013)
  • "Unleash your inner Rainbow" (2013–present)