Hey, cool! Sailor V!

The Numbers Are In!

Ratings At An All Time High!

Surprising almost everyone, Nielsen Media Research is reporting all-time high ratings and shares for "Sailor Moon" on The Cartoon Network; further, when coupled with syndication (local TV stations), more viewers are now watching the series than ever before in the United States.

Click to visit Neilsen Media Research's homepage.

Where Are The Numbers?

Ever see the Nielsen Ratings for "Sailor Moon?" You haven't? We didn't think so! That's because publishing ratings are the exception--not the rule.

The business of ratings works like this: Companies pay Nielsen (and others) to gauge the number of viewers for shows. They also gauge demographics of the viewers--how old they are, what gender they are, where they live, etc. If all of these numbers were made public, there would be no reason for competing companies to pay Nielsen for similar research.

Most of these numbers are kept secret. Only the ranking of the top programs are revealed.

The SOS has been made privy to the actual ratings with the agreement that we would not publish them. We can describe them but can not specify exactly what they are. (But if we should get anything wrong, you can be sure that we'll hear plenty from the companies involved and correct any mistakes!)

During its initial Summer run on The Cartoon Network, "Sailor Moon" had broken its previous syndication & USA Cable Network ratings. It was the number one show in the "Toonami" block of programs until "Dragonball" was added. "Sailor Moon" then slipped to number two and its ratings dropped against the Fall TV Season.

The SOS advocated presenting the final 17 episodes of "Sailormoon-R" as originally scheduled to help carry the show (and continue its momentum into the Fall Season) but the network delayed their airing until after the second run of the initial 65 episode package. This delay gave local TV stations the opportunity to air these new episodes first and ended up stealing viewers from The Cartoon Network.

The Cartoon Network's initial airing of the final 17 episodes (in December of 1998) was rated lower than the original 65 episodes run during the Summer. This was disappointing.

Click to visit the Cartoon Network homepage.

Why Toonami Exists

In identifying the company's assets, Turner executives thought that a Cartoon Network should stress just that, cartoons. But they also had some "inventory" (old shows) which didn't fit in with the image they were trying to create. This lead to the creation of "Toonami," a block of programs where Turner could make use of assets such as "Jonny Quest," "Thundercats," "Superfriends" and anything else they could shove in.

Ideally, a network would like to only show programs which it owns. (All of the aforementioned series are owned by Time/Warner and are shown for free.) But these shows have performed so poorly as of late that in order to make use of them, the network has been willing to give up time for bartered programs. This way the network can utilize its old inventory and attract some viewers by surrounding it with more current, popular programming.

Where's my CHiPS????
"You guys are just too cruel!"
Predictably the series experienced another drop after the final 17 (we had even recommended that fans not watch for a while as a sign of protest for new episodes). The show quickly recovered and then shot-up to higher viewership than during the airing of the final 17 episodes.

In other words, the early episodes of the series were getting higher ratings in January than the "new" episodes during the holiday season. December, with all of its competitive programming and an erratic viewership took its toll against the show.

Since that time the series has built on its recovery and is now (early April 1999) at levels higher than during the Summer. As far as we know, none of the companies associated with "Sailor Moon" were projecting these ratings back in 1998. The number of viewers are even a surprise (and delight) to us.

What's especially impressive is that this is occurring during the most competitive daypart for children's programming. To be able to attract kid viewers away from Kids' WB, Fox Kids, UPN and syndicated fare (Local Broadcast TV Stations) and onto a Cable Network is no small feat. The Cartoon Network has finally found the right programming to position "Toonami" as a viable alternative for viewers.

We're Addicted To Them Too!

SOS Ratings?

Visitors to the SOS page in the last 2 years. Our own web site data reflects the rise in viewers. In tracking visits to the SOS Homepage we have experienced growth beyond the expected rise in internet usage among our demographic and links to our site.

In very loose terms, a weekly update, during a non-campaign period last year would result in approximately 1,300 visits per weekday. This year we are receiving at least 2,000 visits for the same periods.

Increased viewership of Sailor Moon may be due in part to our own letter writing campaign concerning "Sailormoon-S." We received several emails detailing how fans held parties and other activities to write letters to The Cartoon Network--which created the unintended benefit of inducing new viewers to sample the show.

But the main reason we believe is that the series has always performed better when there is less competition.

So That's Why U.S. Animation Is So Juvenile!

If You're Over 11, You Don't Exist!

What has been repeatedly exasperating for us is how most of the companies associated with the series seem to exclude any data, ratings & demographics of any viewers or purchasers over 11 years of age. Animation is still viewed by many companies as a kids market. The kids market is strictly thought of as 2 through and including 11 years of age only.

Restricting ratings and commercial time to the 2-11 crowd only is fine if you're dealing with "Pokemon" but not if you're dealing with a more adult venture such as "Sailor Moon." By leaving out everyone over 11 years of age, we estimate that The Cartoon Network and DiC (yes, DiC) are ignoring over 66% of the total audience.

This is why "Pokemon" gets higher ratings than "Sailor Moon." Most of the pocket monsters' audience is within the 2-11 age group; "Sailor Moon" is not. (But even if viewers over 11 were included, "Pokemon" would still get higher ratings than "Sailor Moon" but not nearly as much.)

(The accompanying article was written with ratings of the total audience [which includes 12+]. But even with the 12+ excluded, the story remains the same.)

The only network which is addressing this discrepancy is The Sci-Fi Channel. They and their sponsors have recognized that 12 year olds (and even older people!) actually watch their programs and make purchases! (To be fair, it would be more accurate to say that they have recognized that adults and children watch their programs!)

Surprisingly, Fox (and local TV stations) haven't recognized this. They view their animated series as for adults (since they're in primetime). (Have you seen many toy or cereal commercials on any of the syndicated "Simpson" reruns? No? Exactly!) Here's an animated series which is being mostly stripped on weekdays, up until 8pm and it's getting huge audiences--including 2-11 year olds!

You'd think some of the companies associated with "Sailor Moon" would want something like that--a huge hit! But no! Over and over again they sleepwalk, "But animation is for children... animation is for children... 2 to 11... 2 to 11..."

We last saw this phenomenon with "Ren & Stimpy." Nickelodeon hated the show! Everything else on their network was geared for (and had commercials for) the 2-11 crowd. But "Ren & Stimpy" attracted a huge 12+ audience which made selling ad time impossible. Nickelodeon still has no older time block (such as "Toonami") for such fare.

The Cartoon Network's problem is that it has "Toonami" and still ignores the 12+ audience.

But do you know who else has recognized this problem at The Cartoon Network? Ted Turner! He finally went public with a plan to create his own version of The Sci-Fi Channel--which would include anime! (We'd like to think that the "SMS" letters from some of the older fans had something to do with it!)

Believe it or not, most of us who work on the SOS page are over 11 years old!  And we hate being ignored!
Consistently leading "Sailor Moon" has been "Dragonball." "Sailor Moon" has been catching-up to "Dragonball" in recent weeks because of the nature of its story arc but is not expected to overtake it. Last time we checked, it was behind by approximately 21%. The two shows do not cannibalize one another and instead appear to attract more viewers overall. One executive said, "They're more like a tag team."

Although the programs on "Toonami" are by no means the highest rated hours on The Cartoon Network (they couldn't be because of the limited number of viewers for that daypart and the competition of that daypart), they do represent the largest (and least expensive) increase of growth for the network. If The Cartoon Network is to experience growth and charge more for its commercial time it will be with the continued and increasing growth of blocks like "Toonami."

New, original programming (such as "The Power Puff Girls") on The Cartoon Network has increased viewers but at a far higher cost. But unlike "Dragonball" and "Sailor Moon" the network owns these new programs and sells all of the commercial time (some of the "Toonami" shows are bartered) as well as generating income from merchandising and ancillary rights.

Nielsen reports were provided by an independent source. The Cartoon Network Research Department was not asked for comment on this story.