Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Cable Cartoons: Up, Down, Sideways

The Reporter and Journal have various bits of good and bad news for Nick, Disney and Cartoon Network.

... Viacom’s Nickelodeon and Time Warner’s Cartoon Network have seen ratings declines among children between the ages of two and 11, while Walt Disney’s networks have shown diverging trends. ...

For Nickelodeon, Nielsen's data shows that 969,000 kids between the ages of two and 11 watched in September, down 11 percent from the year-ago period. ... Cartoon Network averaged 479,000 preteen viewers between Aug. 29 and Nov. 20, down 12 percent from the year-ago period. ... Disney XD averaged 149,000 in the period, down 1 percent, but Disney Channel has drawn an average of 924,000, up 5.9 percent.

The Hub, a joint venture channel of Hasbro and Discovery Communications, said its audience among kids 2-11 rose more than 50 percent to 46,000 compared with the year-ago period. ...

Nick's numbers have been sliding in the last couple of months, and Viacom topkick Philippe Dauman says he can't figure out why that would be. (I donno. Fewer little eyeballs clued to the flat screen, maybe?)

Nickelodeon has been producing more c.g.i. shows of late, and I don't know if that could have something to do with the falling numbers. But I do know that a decade ago, when Sony was making a push with more computer generated half-hours, it didn't result in a bunch more people watching the snazzy, 3-D shows than the traditional hand-drawn ones. Sony ultimately went back to the less-expensive pencil and paint-brush format.

I've long thought that making and broadcasting c.g. shows doesn't necessarily result in higher ratings. Kid viewers don't care if an animated show is computer generated or not, especially if they're three, four and five. In fact for some, it's kind of off-putting. They just want the half-hour to be colorful and fun-nee.

Of course, maybe it isn't the computer-generated graphics that are the problem, but less than totally entertaining content. Chilling thought.

24 comments:

Anonymous said...

There is too much content and most of it is not unique or interesting, which goes for animation as well as live action. There are too many alternatives to watching TV and many kids are watching on mobile and streaming devices which aren't trackable like Neilsen boxes. All these factor into declining numbers.

Anonymous said...

I completely agree with the above. Kids are even more distracted than their multi-tasking parents. They learn from mom and dad and take it to levels never seen before. Have any of these 'executives' experienced how complex and multi-layered video games are?

Anonymous said...

My kid downloads his favorite cartoon on iTunes. He like the fact he can play it anytime he wants on his laptop, and loves to replay some funny parts over and over. He hates commercials, and he's only 7.

Anonymous said...

Spongebob's character and likability have been destroyed by lousy scripting. And the Fairly Oddparents is now an unbearable mess - lousy scripting also to blame. Unless Nick starts paying attention to its shows' quality and content, I daresay the ratings plummet will likely get worse.

Anonymous said...

It's the same old problem. Any time these networks have a hit show, it's usually entirely by accident. Spongebob and Fairly Oddparents were shrugged off at first by most of the Nickelodeon hierarchy until they became hits. Then they all scrambled to take credit for two shows that somehow slipped through the cracks of their ineptitude. Same goes for Disney, same goes for Cartoon Network. The sheer number of out-of-touch bureaucrats one must navigate to get a show made has eroded any chance of creating quality programming. Apart from getting quasi-celebrity voice talent, most of them simply don't care about cartoons and it shows and resonates with the audience.

Anonymous said...

First of all, Spongebob isn't scripted, so having poor 'scripting' means nothing, except that you don't know what you are talking about.

Second, if the shows are getting lame, I wouldn't blame the creatives. They're just trying to keep caring about a 'property' that Viacom owns and is bound and determined to squeeze as much profit out of before it finally collapses from the weight of the executive's own emerging internal hypocrisies.

The corporate parents of Sbob are doing only what they are legally bound by shareholders to do - make money by any and all means necessary. So Spongebob is doing exactly what The Simpson's, Family Guy, and every other hit television show in history does - it is jumping the shark to keep the revenue stream going just a little bit longer. And to keep people working, of course.

Which isn't such a bad thing in this economy.

Anonymous said...

**First of all, Spongebob isn't scripted, so having poor 'scripting' means nothing, except that you don't know what you are talking about.**

Oh,sorry. It's boarded - which means scripting with pictures!!!! My bad. Let me rephrase that: the BOARDING SUCKS!!!!!

Good job, "creatives" on turning a lovable character into an insufferable jerk.

Anonymous said...

Yes, let's discuss who's an insufferable uncreative jerk here.

Troll.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and your mother's fat.

Anonymous said...

^One of the "creatives" of Fairly Odd Parents, no doubt.

Anonymous said...

Wow, I'm confused. So since "Disney Channel has drawn an average of 924,000, up 5.9 percent." Does that mean that Disney has better scripting since it's doing better? And if for some reason Nick and CN rating goes up during the next round of data comes out, does that mean the scripting go better? Is it really tied that strongly to the scripting? Can't the numbers also be influenced by other factors?

Anonymous said...

The scripting of a series is what determines the appeal of both storyline and characters. Of course it matters. Blaming Nick's problems on cycles etc. is nonsense. As for Disney, it's got Phineas and Ferb, for one thing, and that show has some of the best cartoon writing there is. Writing that doesn't depend on violence and abuse/ridicule of characters, esp. female characters. P and F has a sense of humor AND a heart. Nick's "creatives" could learn a lesson or two from it.

Anonymous said...

Have you watched P and F? Their sister is abused and ridiculed every episode. The writing in every episode is the same basic template. It's a hit because kids like familiarity of story, knowing what will happen in the end, same reason why Scooby Doo still garners an audience. BTW My kids and I like Phineas and Ferb.

Anonymous said...

"The scripting of a series is what determines the appeal of both storyline and characters. "

Yes, Nickelodeon and Cartoon Networks ratings are falling because of 'scripting' or whatever the f*** you call this magical creative force that lifts all boats. You can keep your dime store analysis of the television animation business to yourself, thank you. It's worthless.

Anonymous said...

yes, bad writing is why nick and cn ratings are beginning to sag. forget the presidents, vice presidents, executives, marketing executives, ad sales executives, producers, line producers, creators, directors, artists, and the entire changing economics of the industry of television. it all comes down to a bad script. they just need to go get some of those good scripts.

Christopher M. Sobieniak said...

All this makes me yearn for where we were 30 years ago when you had so few outlets available, but it was all entertainment.

Anonymous said...

So Christopher your saying that the cartoons of the early 80's were more entertaining than the ones today?

Christopher M. Sobieniak said...

Well, at least the classics had better exposure then.

Anonymous said...

There is an abundance of creative talent in the industry but everything gets whittled down by all of the completely untalented uncreative execs.

Anonymous said...

Oh, I see. So the scripts are brilliant but the execs ruin them?

HAHAHAHAHA!!!!

Nice excuse. Applicable to any industry across the board, if you're gullible enough to believe it.

As for P & F, the sister gets herself into predicaments, and gets knocked around a bit as a result, but there's no doubt she's loved by her parents, brothers and boyfriend; the show makes that very clear, wittily and gracefully. Which helps make P & F stand out from other shows, Fairly Odd Parents in particular.

Anonymous said...

You keep bringing up scripts, dude. No one is talking about scripts, they are talking about tv ratings. You a writer? You selling your scripts? No one buying? No one reading them? No one giving you credit for the ones you do write? Someone else getting credit and far more income for the really amazing ones you do write? Drop it, already. We know. Everything is about the scripts and how good yours are. We get it.

Anonymous said...

"As for P & F, the sister gets herself into predicaments, and gets knocked around a bit as a result, but there's no doubt she's loved by her parents, brothers and boyfriend; the show makes that very clear, wittily and gracefully."

Getting herself into predicaments? She isn't real. The writers make her character obsessed with busting her brothers, making her a lighter version than Vicki from FOP.

She is still the source of ridicule in the A Story and suffers most of the physical punishment. Which contrary to your original point is a source of humor at the expense of a female character.

Anonymous said...

"It's the same old problem. Any time these networks have a hit show, it's usually entirely by accident."

As far as I know, CN has only had one bonifide hit and that was PPG (or maybe two if you count DragonBall Z) and that definetely wasn't "by accident." The executives in charge around that time actually cared about good cartoons being made and had faith in PPG become popular because they liked it so much. Even when it done horribly in focus testing.

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