The End Of Toonami As We Know It? Repeats galore starting in 2002?
The AOL Takeover
The AOL purchase changed all of that; it effectively removed Ted Turner from having any say in the running of the company. (Some insiders back at Time/Warner headquarters in New York have been telling us for years that Mr. Turner had been slowly removing himself anyway.)
In order to streamline the company (to help recoup its investment), AOL decided to cut down or remove those separate management teams and create a single agenda. Time/Warner execs quickly convinced the new AOL team that executives from Warner Bros. Television should be in charge of the Turner networks. Executives from Warner Bros. Television will now start to oversee these networks which includes the Cartoon Network.
A Unified Agenda
Jamie Kellner of Warner Bros. Television (and his family) will be moving to Atlanta, Georgia to oversee the Turner networks.
(Fans should know that while WB-TV may oversee the Cartoon Network it is not running it. The Cartoon Network is still an autonomous network; but one which now must "fit in" with the rest of the family. Fans should also know that there are some execs within Turner Broadcasting which have never liked Toonami [we have run into them] just as there are some closeted execs at Warner Bros. which love Toonami.)
Industry executives concur that Toonami has indeed been one of the major reasons for Kids' WB declining ratings. (The number one reason has been the declining pull of Pokemon.) But they are quick to point out that the more networks you control and that are in competition--the more of the total market you will control. (In other words, the more pieces of a pie you own, the more pie you'll sell.)
However, there is less demand for pie this year. With U.S. consumer confidence down, advertisers are spending less which means less money for commercials. WB-TV wants to concentrate its sale of commercial time to specific blocks on specific networks. So, if you want to sell action figures for example, you could buy commercial time on Kids' WB up until 5pm and then on the Cartoon Network at 5pm and thereafter.
There is just one problem with all of this. It's called dinner.
The Problem With Dinner
It gets worse.
The Cartoon Network's greatest amount of growth has come from its new cartoon shows such as the Powerpuff Girls & Dexter's Laboratory. Primetime (7 or 8pm to 9 or 10pm) is reserved for them--which effectively limits Toonami to end by 7 or 8pm. The network has chosen 7pm and we can understand why. Toonami is seen as violent programming which is somehow more acceptable in the afternoon but unacceptable for family viewing (after dinner).
Limiting Toonami to only 2 lowly rated hours may kill that block of programming.
Because advertisers don't want to pay top dollar for commercials for the 5pm - 7pm period, networks can not afford to program original entertainment then. With decreased ratings the Cartoon Network will not be able to afford new anime programs. It will have to start relying upon its own library and/or other networks' shows. (YTV could now get into the anime premiere business with far less competition.)
It'll be interesting to see what kind of ratings the new dubbed episodes of "Dragonball Z" receive. What an experiment! We hope the ratings are terrific or terrible! Why terrible? Because then WB-TV MIGHT be able to be convinced that it could net more money overall by putting Toonami back to its old timeslot. But this would only work if Kids' WB benefitted from such a move.
(Speaking of DBZ, the Cartoon Network has picked up some of the original "Dragonball" series and will start to air them on Monday, June 25. This 1st series is cheaper than paying for any additional new episodes and should get better-than-average ratings.)
Toonami's Midnight Run could definitely continue (and could even increase its audience). Other appropriate dayparts, such as mornings and early afternoon, are not exactly conducive to Toonami. Fans should recall how poorly Sailor Moon performed during its very first syndication run via (mostly) morning timeslots and how it did so-so on the USA Network at 8:30am. The show did not become a hit in the United States until it was scheduled in the afternoon (like on Canada's YTV).
If the economy in the United States should improve, then WB-TV could try to capture more of that pie and allow Toonami to compete against WB Kids' again.
Viewers may have also noticed how the Cartoon Network has been experimenting with the early afternoon daypart (pre 3:00pm) to see if Toonami could work there. They are fortunately (or unfortunately?) experimenting with this during the May sweeps but there appears to be no serious competition (and with good reason). Regardless, we don't believe that the ratings will be high enough to allow for new programming. So Toonami could move to that time, but again, there would probably be no new series commissioned by the network.
There is some good coming out of all of this.
The first (and perfect) example of this is CardCaptors, which has been scheduled to run just once on the Cartoon Network for 3 weeks starting on Monday, June 4 through Friday, June 22 at 5pm (with some episodes to be doubled-up at 5:30pm near the end of the run). If successful, the series could return. Kid's WB will start getting the Cartoon Network's original programming such as the Powerpuff Girls & Dexter's Laboratory. If the ratings should be good, more could follow.
Cable networks do not broadcast over the public airwaves and so there are no affiliates to complain--only local cable operators who are banned from dropping such programs. Consumers decide to pay for cable. Cable allows a lot more freedom for such blocks like Toonami.
We would have liked to seen CardCaptors scheduled on the Cartoon Network for the late afternoon against Kids' WB. Perhaps shoujo/magical girl shows would NOT drain audiences away from Kids' WB (which is predominately "boys")? Hey, you Warner Bros. execs who are reading this--why not allow the Cartoon Network to try some of this during the Summer months?
Our recent email campaign concerning the return of Sailor Moon now takes on a whole different meaning. Each email can now be seen as an unsolicited vote of support for Toonami. Months ago, when the Save Our Sailors (SOS) first planned this mini-campaign, WB-TV had not yet signalled any change. By coincidence, just around the time we posted the story of Sailor Moon's departure did the decision become known. We hope that the Cartoon Network may use these emails not only to reinstate Sailor Moon but also Toonami to a decent time period.
Fans should NOT email or contact the Cartoon Network or Kids' WB or any part of Warner Bros. Television concerning Toonami or Sailor Moon at this time. We hope to provide everyone the opportunity to present their opinion via our upcoming "Sailor Stars" campaign. Asking WB-TV the wrong way might ensure encasing Toonami in cement forever.
And what will happen with Sailor Moon?
If the features shouldn't end up on the network's schedule--we'll know why. (And so the lesson for Toei is to work a little faster and to settle for a little less.) The features should continue to sell well via Home Video but the irony here is that sales for Home Videos (this old) usually go up after a broadcast. A TV broadcast can help raise consumer awareness of a Home Video release.
Perhaps WB-TV could be convinced to favor a shoujo/magical girl block for the Cartoon Network as noted above? (Any suggestions for a name of such a block?) Or maybe "Sailor Stars" could be considered a cheap alternative for additional new primetime series on the Cartoon Network? The network has always seemed to pad out their primetime with far too many repeats. And since it does not have the same kind of violence as with other Toonami shows, "Sailor Stars" could run at 7pm or (far more preferably at) 10pm (with a lot less censorship).
The ideal time would be 9pm Monday - Friday but we understand how important that period is for new Cartoon Network-produced series.
We should point out that the network's Sales Department would have to rework its approach under such a proposal. "Sailor Stars" at 10pm would be of less interest to toy manufacturers but of greater interest to the teenage market (hygiene, movies, electronic games, music, etc.). "Sailor Stars" could be a breakthrough show for that sector of advertising which has never reached its full potential on the network.
But sadly, if we should not see an opening for "Sailor Stars" via the Cartoon Network or Kids' WB, the SOS will start inquiring with other networks.
These recent events have really botched-up our "Sailor Stars" plans. Why is our world filled with all this turmoil? Why do there have to be all these unproductive, backward changes for a growing field such as our own? If there's one thing to be glad about it's that we didn't act sooner. Imagine if we, the SOS, had started clamoring for "Sailor Stars" (in any form you want) back in January of this year? It could have all been for nothing! Thank goodness there's nothing going on with Pioneer! (Uh-oh... why'd we have to say that?) No, there's nothing going on with Pioneer but right now we wouldn't be surprised by anything.