SpongeBob SquarePants is an American animated television series about the adventures of an optimistic and energetic Fry Cook Sea Sponge created by Stephen Hillenburg. Other characters on the show include Squidward Tentacles, Sandy Cheeks, Eugene Krabs, and his best friend Patrick Star. It has been Nickelodeon's most popular series and it is also their longest running NickToon. As of 2018, it has become Viacom Media Networks' most distributed property and the franchise has generated $13 billion in merchandising revenue.
It ran on CITV in the UK from 12 February 2002 to around 2011. One can presume the reason for CITV's loss of rights for the show is because of VIVA, Viacom (Owner of Nickelodeon which in turn owns SpongeBob)'s Free-To-Air Music channel which aired more than just music. It showed other Nickelodeon properties aswell (Such as Penguins of Madagascar, Fred: The Show, and Kung-Fu Panda: Legends of Awesomeness). Viacom possibly didn't want their property airing on a channel that they don't own and not being able to control the amount of airtime it gets, so Viacom relinquished CITV of the license to air SpongeBob so they could air it on their own channel, VIVA.
In 2015, after Viacom's acquisition of Channel 5, it was announced that VIVA would be reduced to a music-only channel and that it would be taken off of Freeview to make room for bringing over Spike TV to the UK, thus causing SpongeBob to be removed off of the channel. It was announced that most of VIVA's entertainment programming would be migrated over to 5STAR (One of Channel 5's sister channels. Programs like "South Park" and "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air", which were mainstays on VIVA's schedule, found a new home on 5STAR). Ever since, SpongeBob hasn't had a proper home on Freeview. He occasionally airs on Channel 5 (For example, "It's a SpongeBob Christmas!" aired on Christmas Eve in 2016.) and 5STAR, and Nickelodeon would let Spongebob air on ITV2.