Saturday, May 19, 2012

Competitors in TV Animation

The Reporter reports:

Kids these days aren't like they used to be. Just ask executives at television networks that cater to children. Over the past year, a sea change in viewing habits has thrown one of the most profitable segments of Hollywood into a chaotic period of transition. Longtime leader Nickelodeon suffered a nearly 30 percent drop in ratings in February, while rivals including Cartoon Network have seen increases. At the same time, upstarts such as The Hub, PBS Kids, Sprout and even Netflix are siphoning off viewers, to say nothing of the online programming and gaming options ...

In many ways, Nick is having a mid-life crisis. A couple of years ago, it made a sizable commitment to CG animation. There were the Dreamworks shows (Penguins of Madagascar, Kung Fu Panda). There was Robots and Monsters. Then DWA sent How to Train Your Dragon, the series to APU/Wildbrain and the crew of Robot and Monster which staffers told me was one of the smoothest-running Nick series in ions, got pink-slipped before the show had its network launch.

Added to which, the hand-drawn Adventure Time, which Nick declined to greenlight and put into turnaround, is now a hit for a resurgent Cartoon Network, and CN's ratings are up, even as Nickelodeon's sag. It's enough to give a cartoon executive heart-burn ... and second thoughts about being all CGI, all the time.

... Disney Channel for the first time beat Nickelodeon in first-quarter 2012 among children 6-11 when measured around the clock. Most analysts attributed the shift in part to Nickelodeon relying on only a handful of high-performing series (SpongeBob, iCarly) while Disney, Cartoon Network and others now offer a more diverse slate of new shows.

"Our strategy has been to build a strong, consistent portfolio of content and not rely too heavily on any one series," says Gary Marsh, president and chief creative officer of Disney Channels Worldwide. "If you get into that trap, the bottom can fall out on you, and I think that's what happened to Nickelodeon." ...


Me, I think ratings and the fortunes of the kids' networks are cyclical: down today but up sixteen months from now when new product kicks in. As I write, Nickelodeon is doing serious development work, with board artists creating shorts that could, audiences willing, blossom into hit series down the road. (Sponge Bob, despite corporate wishes, will not last forever.)

Nick was not going to stay Top Dog forever. No entity does. But failure is not a death warrant. For resilient, innovative companies, it's a wake up call that says: "You had your run, now get off your backside and try some new approaches."


Jim Mortensen said...

Once again, Steve, our show is called "Robot & Monster".

Anonymous said...

jester: Nick should just get rid of their new shows and bring back the old shows and I don't care what series is in development because it will suck.

Chris Sobieniak said...

Of course those my age wish Nickelodeon was the way it was back in the 80's when it was this untamed beast that simply did what kids wanted to see, and we were happy for it.

Steve Hulett said...


For some reason I want to make the words in the title plural.

Stupidity and inattention on my part. Apologies.

JFreds said...

Robot and Monster has not been and apparently never was pink slipped.

Interview with creator Dave Pressler explains it:

Dave Pressler said...

The show was never "pink slipped". Something I don't like about the internet is anyone can print hearsay and rumors and somehow that turns into truth. No one ever asked me directly about the status of the show. I would have cleared things up along time ago. Right now the show is doing great.

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