Scheduling Woes Plague Animation Networks
By: Dylan Hysen
It happens time and time again and it’s beyond tiresome at this point. One of the major animation networks pulls a show or changes its time the week that it airs.
The most recent victim is Steven Universe, changed from 5:30pm to 7:30pm a few days before it was set to air. Then the following week future airings of the show were taken off the schedule without any announcement from the network or communication from the crew.
This is not new with Cartoon Network, which does not seem to care that fans of their content expect consistent scheduling. Young Justice was famously pulled off the air the day of a few years ago and then was not aired again for months. You might expect other networks to do better with basic scheduling, but a few weeks ago Disney changed Gravity Falls’ time slot from 8:30pm to 8:00pm with no announcement from the network. This is of course in addition to Gravity Falls having the most inconsistent scheduling of any show in recent memory, its episodes airing on whatever Mondays Disney decides, weeks apart from each other.
And let’s not even get started on Nickelodeon. Last year they began airing Book 3 of The Legend of Korra a week after announcing it, after being plagued with online leaks. Then the season moved time slots twice on Friday nights before being yanked off the air altogether and moving online.
So here’s the problem: inconsistent time slots for shows disenfranchise audiences who expect their favorite shows to be on at the same time every week. If a time change must be made, communication with the audience is vital, and was completely lacking in all of the above instances.
This problem is pervasive across all three major children’s animation networks. Why is this? Do they not understand that all of the above shows have established older audiences that these moves may disenfranchise? Why is it only the children’s networks that do this? The only line of logic that makes sense to me is that they think kids watch their channels without concern for what show is on, so moving around time slots has a minimal effect on ratings. While already questionable logic, this completely ignores established fandoms that all of these shows have, and both gives off the perception that they do not care about them, and also probably disenfranchises them in reality.
So, to all three networks: air your shows consistently, and communicate with your audience. This is easier than ever with social media, and can also just be done at the end of the airing of an episode. That these networks so often fail at this basic audience etiquette leaves their audiences with no choice but to not have basic trust in them. Which is a major problem as all three networks are airing some of the highest quality animation content in America.