Tuesday, January 3, 2017

A Look Back: At the Dearly Departed, and the (rather dire) state of Nick and Disney

But first, some housekeeping notes!

For starters, in deference to Mike I'm going to relocate this from his post to here:

I deeply apologize for interrupting Mike here off-topic but...I suppose this is as close to a "this is a breaking news interruption we will return to your regularly scheduled program" break as we're likely ever to have on this blog. The reason why I'm doing this is specifically to avoid a dedicated post about it which I'll get to shortly. There's some news that's been circulating around, and given the subject matter of this blog and what's been of people's highest interest as of late you can probably guess what it is, but in deference to Christian and Sean at GirlMeetsWorldReviewed.blogspot.com I am going to request everyone defer from making any statements until they break the news and publish their thoughts first.

Reposted in unmodified form because I'm lazy, and I'm also sick and have a headache.

Secondly, I've been getting complaints from posters that their comments haven't been showing up so I've removed all posting restrictions whatsoever - this means you should be able to post anonymously if you want, and that your posts should show up immediately without having to wait in the moderation cue (which I think was eating some of the posts sitting there). Hopefully it'll work, and hopefully it'll let the readership or at least commentariat grow beyond just the three or so of you who currently bother. Finally, I had started writing this post when it was still 2016 so it's written as if it were, and I didn't bother to update it because, again, lazy, sick, headache. 

...
Yes, I know I haven't finished the MVP tally - the formatting is horrid (though not as bad as I had feared), I hadn't even tallied Mike's MVP awards and I am well aware that I've given MVP awards to an animated gif, a soggy samosa, an article of midriff-revealing clothing, not one but two YouTube stars from some...really strange and questionable series and at least once to myself. I'll get back to that one, I promise, but right now I want to move on to some other things since it's been something of discussion on the Twittersphere and IMDb right now - the number of series from both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel that's been canceled, and the sorry state both networks are in.

When I did this last year I was shocked at the sudden, out-of-nowhere nosedive in ratings of Nickelodeon and especially Disney Channel (Nickelodeon had been somewhat insulated from the 2015 "Kidocalypse" because it had already suffered so badly the two years prior) but if I had any idea what 2016 would be like, maybe I would've held off on the whole Kidocalypse thing. I mean, wow. Disney Channel got utterly hammered this year. For the entirety of the 2013 calendar year an episode of Jessie was considered weak if it could barely get over 3.5-3.75 million viewers. In 2014, Jessie dipped below 2 million for the first time (exactly twice I believe) but still on average got around above 3 million viewers while Girl Meets World was easily achieving around 3.5 million. In 2015 Jessie was struggling to get around 2.5 million, while Girl Meets World was pretty much stuck there on the "easy average" especially late in the year. Nowadays Girl Meets World is struggling to get above 1.5 million and it's still the network's most popular show. Or in other words, the top shows of the network have lost over 2 million viewers in the course of two-three years. In 2013 an especially weak show like A.N.T. Farm could still be expected to get over 3 million viewers routinely - the spread between the most and least successful shows was actually pretty narrow, indicating good "retention" as they say in the industry. In 2014 that spread started to widen, as A.N.T. Farm closed out around 2.5 million or less and I Didn't Do It struggled to get out of 2 million period for its entire existence (and flirted with 1 million flat for multiple episodes). That spread started to lessen again in 2015 and is again very thin in 2016 - but only because the top shows have followed the laggers to the bottom. Best Friends Whenever, which just had its series finale (we'll get to that more in a bit) hovered around 1 million for its final season, and even stronger shows like K.C. Undercover, Stuck in the Middle and Bizaardvark aren't doing much better (again, Girl Meets World is pretty much doing only half a million better as the network's strongest). It's gotten so bad that people are just wondering, what's next for Disney Channel?

Nickelodeon in comparison is doing much stronger, and I don't hesitate to call it their year (though I do still hesitate to outright declare them a winner, much like I did last year when I simply declared both networks losers). Their strongest shows are still doing below 3 million, but with for example The Thundermans hanging on above 2.5 million, they look to be on solid ground compared to Disney Channel. That said, they've shed quite a few shows themselves.

What may be Disney Channel's last unqualified live-action successes, Liv and Maddie (Cali-style!) and Girl Meets World, will come to an end - early next year so they don't count. What does count, however, is Austin & Ally which drew out its fourth season in February after some 87 episodes and is so far the second-to-last live-action series to get a fourth season, behind Liv and Maddie (no it really doesn't look like Girl Meets World is getting that fourth season, get over it already). Also coming to a close is Best Friends Whenever, which aired its series finale just last week and is the second two-season wonder behind I Didn't Do It. In fact being the first new series after IDDI, it pretty much makes it two in a row now. 

On the Disney XD front, Gravity Falls ended just prior to Austin & Ally with just two seasons, but two seasons stretched over four calendar years, premiering all the way back in Summer '12 (what certainly didn't help were long season breaks, with no episodes to speak of from October '12 through March '13, and again from August '13 to Summer/Fall 2014, going nearly a whole year without any new episodes aired. And people say the long breaks between Girl Meets World episodes is bad!) Both Mighty Med and Lab Rats ended late in 2015 with Lab Rats enjoying its retitled Bionic Island fourth season while Mighty Med ended with only two - but this is 2016 so they don't really count either. I only mention them because I neglected to mention Disney XD at all last year (as those were the highest-profile live-action shows ending that year, and on the network period) and because both of those shows ended up combining Voltron-style to form Lab Rats: Elite Force - which turned out to be one-and-done lasting only from this March to this September with a cliffhanger of all things, and to the best of my knowledge the only live-action scripted show on either network to be a one-season wonder since all the way back to So Random!! (and other than such, possibly since the premiere of Hannah Montana marking the current era). I believe this leaves only Kirby Buckets (which will burn off its whole third and final season almost entirely in January) and Walk the Prank as the only even partially scripted live-action series on XD, or for that matter live-action series period. There may be more shows ending, but there's so many what I consider to be near throw-away animation (Pickle & Peanut, FutureWorm!), imports (Yokai Cannot Bear To Ever Watch), or just animation period (Star vs. the Forces of Evil which I'm sorry I just can't get into, Penn Zero: Part-Time Hero which, again, sorry, but I consider it extremely mediocre and just not worth having the photons impact my irises) that it's just not worth my time keeping track of all this shit.

As Mike mentioned in his latest review, Bella and the Bulldogs ended with two seasons, a seemingly increasingly common trend for either network when just a short while ago it was nearly unthinkable - if you got a series on Disney Channel at least, it was practically guaranteed to run the whole three-season gamut. It's still better than Legendary Dudas, which apparently was strictly a summer burn-off being a one-season wonder with just six episodes aired. Likewise, 100 Things to Do Before High School (a series I voted best of the network a year ago) left permanently after its Valentines Day-themed episode and didn't even quite make the ordered 26 Things to do Before High School (though probably because the "movie" took up the first two). And maybe a cartoon here or there didn't make it, again, there's too many to really keep track of but surprisingly with a second season ordered into '17, Pig Goat Banana Cricket isn't one of them (and I actually like that show!)




So our final tally ends up being one series two-and-done for Disney Channel proper in '16 (Best Friends Whenever) and one that got to close out a fourth season (Austin & Ally), a series that's one-and-done on XD (LR Elite Force) and one that had two stretched out over an insanely long period (Gravity Falls) and three live-action series done on Nickelodeon (Bella and the Bulldogs, 100 Things to do Before High School and Legendary Dudas). That's two for Disney Channel, two for Disney XD and three for Nickelodeon - or four for Disney with everything combined, making Nickelodeon the winner in this case, but its not exactly a victory to brag about.

Breaking it down by which series that have left us did so as actual successes, it gives the "winner" even less to brag about. Only Austin & Ally and (arguably) Gravity Falls bowed out with full runs; of the single networks Disney Channel proper still comes out the "winningest" as Best Friends Whenever still got a second season; LR: Elite Force so far as the most embarrassing crash-and-burn since, well, Crash & Bernstein (which I believe still got a second season). Nickelodeon couldn't even do that, with their greatest "success" of the shows leaving being the two-season Bella and the Bulldogs, and one of the other series apparently being a sacrificial summer burnoff. That's 1/2 for Disney Channel, 1/2 for Disney XD and 0/3 for Nickelodeon; or 2/4 for Disney networks combined, making them the clear winner with that metric in mind and again, not exactly a victory to brag about.

But I know what you're thinking, Nickelodeon's still the most successful so far because Thundermans, Henry Danger, Game Shakers (for bizarre reasons) and School of Rock (for reasons even more bizarre to the point where I have to wonder if Russian hackers were involved) all got renewed to Season 3 at least, with Thundermans ending their fourth and final season deep into '17. And yeah, when I do this late in '17 they're probably going to come out the clear overwhelming winner - but this goes to illustrate how weak both networks were in the '15-'16 television seasons (especially if Game Shakers and School of Rock end up being the greatest successes, Oy Vey).


This leads into a bigger question, what the future of both networks will end up being like? Disney Channel is in a highly precarious position right now if eve a big "hit" ends up being below 2 million, if not barely hovering above 1.5 million (or even worse). Yes, ratings and success are relative, but there comes a point where it stops being sustainable. Is Disney Channel a dead network walking? I hope such a prediction gets seen as silly by the new year's end, but we'll have to see. Meanwhile, at least Nickelodeon looks like it's stabilized. 

It's official. We can pay our respects in the next post, if you know what I mean. Changed to green text because I think I didn't write this, I certainly don't remember. The software isn't exactly the most friendly and I know from experience it's an oversight I've made before tons and tons of times.

4 comments:

  1. This is just insane. Both Networks are horribly mistreating their Live Action AND Animated Shows. We know both put more effort into advertising the live action stuff which is why animation gets shafted, but they're treating live action so badly now that it's just...yikes.

    This is even taking aside the quality of the shows. Bcck to animation, Randy Cunningham ended on a cliffhanger, as did Wander, which leaves Star Vs, and Milo Murphy standing. I'm hoping Milo gets a decent run simply due to their creators being the saviors of animation, and Star is already getting Season 3, which is good..

    But then we Penn Zero. It's 2nd season is in production and seemingly almost done. It's most recent episode aired in October of 2015. OVER A YEAR AGO.

    (As for the other ones, Star Wars Rebels is being treated okay and will have a solid run, while the marvel shows ait so weirdly that it's odd that they keep them on)

    Nick is sadly doing better as Loud House is getting Season 3 and Sanjay and Craig endeed on a good note with a solid run. But they treate Harvey Beaks very poorly and now Fairly Odd Parents is gettign the Nicktons Network treatment, although I'm fine with that one.

    And of course Spongebob will be here long after we're all dead.

    Back to live action, Gamer's Guide is also getting a burn off, so that's done for. Let's just pray to god any new shows they air int his year are good, or at least decent/successful.

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    1. I was under the impression Nick had been treating The Loud House (which, BTW, I agree with Mike, it's an excellent show) actually properly but I could be mistaken. Maybe I'm blinded by wishful thinking.

      Now if you talk to the many people who run professional/industry watch blogs on television (Bill Gorman who used to run TVByTheNumbers and now runs TVGrimReaper.com; The Masked Scheduler on Twitter and MaskedScheduler.com) they'll tell you the scheduling on networks isn't as haphazard as you think and that there's actually a very scientific process to how they do it - either to maximize the absolute best audience for that show they can based on demo research, or to effectively throw it away if it just can't get that audience despite their best efforts, and they're just recouping their losses as best they can through effectively sacrificing the dud show as timespot filler. But it's really getting horrendously inexcusable with Nickelodeon and especially Disney Channel and Disney XD which is the worst of all. You thought the Girl Meets World scheduling and even Best Friends Whenever burnoff is bad? Disney XD has done that...for. Every. Single. One. Of. Their. Live-Action. Shows. (or at least they will with the upcoming two-three week burnoff of Kirby Bucket's entire third season - they've already burned off the last of Gamer's Guide Season 2 as of two days ago, and Elite Force is already a distant memory).

      Now it's possible they've decided these shows were all duds early on and proceeded with typical broadcast/basic cable network practices but it still raises questions like, why renew them in the first place? I'm not really sure, maybe it's worth it's own blog post.

      Like I said, at least Nick gives some better hope. Disney Channel and Disney XD...yeah, I don't blame outside observers for concluding that they're effectively in kamikazie mode.

      I'm not really convinced Milo Murphy is going to last beyond the episodes they've already aired because they've effectively already burned them off...and are showing the six or so episodes ad-nausea on expected filler timeslots. That has me very worried - though TBH it's not that great of a show either. More than just a pale shadow of F&P's greatness, it's just coming off as too repetitive and it's very hard to sustain a show like that on the very fickle late tween through high school senior demo, especially when on top of that you've got a whole bunch of young and not-so-young adults expecting Marsh and Povenmire to work magic again.

      I don't know if I've mentioned my thoughts on Penn-Zero in this blog post or not (again, I just find it a very bland, mediocre cartoon so it's not really a big loss for me - but that doesn't mean its actual fans deserve such blatant disrespect either). It sounds just as bad - maybe worse - than the Gravity Falls situation, and I think what ended up saving that show was the strong fanbase and even the network agreeing that it's just too high quality to let go.

      Rebels and Marvel are being saved by marketing tie-ins, both in fanbase and on the network themselves. They'll milk Rebels far beyond what it's actually worth, and I think the rather poor quality (people think Girl Meets World condescends to its audiences? Rebels acts like Siskel's criticism of Star Wars being kiddie-fare was actual advice) reflects that. Hell, Rebels pretty much killed my enthusiasm for the entirety of the Star Wars franchise. I mean it. I refuse to see both TFA and Rogue One, and any diversity issues in its cast have nothing to do with it - I've just reached Peak Star Wars.

      I really liked Gamer's Guide, the writing was actually awful but Boyce and cast made it at least funny enough to be worth watching.

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    2. As quite the fan of Penn and Milo (And Star Wars Rebels but as i said, it being a tie in means it's treated fine so i don't care about it's fate since it'll have a decent run, plus it actually has the strong fanbase to keep it up) , and a few other things you mentioned, I'm more likely to want better treatment. I mean we'll see on Milo as maybe it'll get treated better once new episodes star again. They're doing a big "bomb" in like Febuary or so.

      With my comment, i was trying to put aside the quality of these shows as if Henry Daner, School of Rock, and Game Shakers can be treated fine, then anything should be treated well especially if it has nay kind of fanbase.

      Once L&M and GMW kick the buket soon, Disney will be really up shit creek. Cuz then Kc will be the only hit standing and one show can't sustain them for very long. I think Stuck in the middle got renwed but i can't see that lasting too much longer, same which Bunk'd.

      And same with Mech X4 which is an okay attempt to shake things up but it hasn't taken off and given how it's made it's not gonna be big enough to last long.

      Back to Nick, I can't help but feel they're decent reatment of the loud house is leading to the bad treatment of the other stuff. Much like how with putting all their resources into Spongebob caused the state their in now.

      For the moment, we have at least a few decent to watchable things still standing but I'm worried about the future, and if new shows will be good, certain shows will get good treatment, and when some of the stuff i mentioned ends.

      We'll just have to wait and see, but I'm just hoping things get at least a bit better.Nick's issue is putting too much "work" into certain shows and creators and neglecting anything else...Disney's is harder to pin down, it's just really random there.

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    3. Oh, I certainly wouldn't mind more episodes and better treatment of Milo, especially since it'll give them more time to find a good voice for the show and have it really pop out of P&F's shadow. I'm just kind of wondering what the heck Disney's doing.

      You might have a point about one show eating up all the promotional resources for another but that always struck me as bizarre, especially on a network like Disney Channel that literally does nothing but self-promote. Seriously. It took me several months to figure out that they don't have conventional commercials like other networks or even Nickelodeon.

      There's also a rumor that Girl Meets World (and Best Friends Whenever, and potentially Bizaardvark) may have been screwed over regardless of ratings (or maybe just as a result of the big ratings crash) because apparently they want XD to be an all-animation channel and mainline Disney Channel to be almost strictly single-cam now, but it's a bit odd for a number of reasons that I'll cover in a future post. BTW how do you find our new posting setup?

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