Oh My Zoi!
Spin Control Fools Fans
Cartoon Network Ratings Mixed
And How To Read A Press Release

An AOL/Time Warner media site posted on May 30, 2001 a press release (headlined, "Cartoon Network Charts New May Total Day Ratings" with the sub-headline, "Prime Time Delivery of Households and Tweens Also Set New May Records") heralding (among other things) that the Cartoon Network, "...set new May total day ratings and delivery network records, posting double-digit ratings and delivery growth across households and all key kids demographics."

A netizen, "Sam," received the press release before it appeared on AOL/Time Warner's site and posted it on saiyanz-rage.net where he is a contributor. Sam tells us that the story was posted on the saiyanz-rage.net site on May 29, 2001 but that they delete news after it is 4 days old.

The story was also posted on Planetnamek.com June 3 as "Z-Day Boasts Huge Ratings", on Anime News Service on June 5 as "Cartoon Network News" and on pojo.com June 8 as "Toonami and Cartoon Network Ratings Up!" We then noticed how different discussion groups on the web started talking about the increased ratings.

While most of the press release seems factual (at least the parts we've researched) it is very misleading. The Cartoon Network's ratings are actually mixed, with some gains and some notable losses.

Tooting their own HORN?

Press Release
TBS Entertainment
May 30, 2001

Cartoon Network Charts New May Total Day Ratings

Prime Time Delivery of Households and Tweens Also Set New May Records

Cartoon Network set new May total day ratings and delivery network records, posting double-digit ratings and delivery growth across households and all key kids demographics. Total day ratings grew 10 percent in households (1.1) as well as 10 percent for tweens 9-14 (1.1) and kids 2-11 (2.2), and 19 percent in kids 6-11 (1.9). Total day delivery increased even more dramatically, up 18 percent in households (767,000), 26 percent in tweens 9-14 (191,000), 31 percent in kids 6-11 (315,000) and 28 percent in kids 2-11 (616,000).

Overall, the all-animation network finished May in third place in total day ratings (1.1) and tied for third place (with USA) in prime time ratings (1.6) among all ad-supported cable networks. Prime time delivery for households (1,193,000) and tweens 9-14 (311,000) set new records for the month, up 12 percent and 9 percent, respectively. May prime time ratings and delivery for kids 6-11 (3.4/564,000) and kids 2-11 (3.9/1,081,000) also charted new records. Kids 6-11 ratings increased 10 percent, while kids 2-11 ratings grew 5 percent. Delivery for both kid demographics improved by 21 percent.

Programming highlights of the month included last Friday's (5/25, 5-7 p.m.) Z-Day, a two-hour block of Toonami's highest-rated program, Dragon Ball Z, featuring the viewers' choice (via online voting) of two episodes that aired from 5-6 p.m. Z-Day earned tripled-digit ratings and delivery increases across kid, tween and teen demographics compared to the same time period last year. Kids 6-11 ratings (3.2) and delivery (542,000) increased by 146 percent and 171 percent, respectively. Tweens 9-14 ratings (2.7) and delivery (471,000) improved by 125 percent and 171 percent, while teens 12-17 ratings (2.4) and delivery (386,000) grew by 100 percent and 117 percent. Also, boys 9-14 ratings (3.9) and delivery (346,000) posted 144 percent and 179 percent growth.

Additional highlights included a week-long airing of Dexter's Laboratory, Cartoon Network's highest-rated original series, from 8-10 p.m., Monday-Thursday (4/30 - 5/3), which helped push Cartoon Network to its number-one finish in prime time for the week. The two-hour block averaged a 1.8 household rating and delivered an average of 1,302,000 homes. The Looney Tunes Fairy Tale Special, (Thurs., 5/17, 9 p.m. - 12 a.m.), aired in conjunction with the theatrical release of Shrek, scored a 1.8 household rating and delivered an average 1,340,000 homes. Compared to the same time period last year, household ratings were up 38 percent and delivery was up 59 percent. A total of 5,760,000 different viewers tuned in over the course of the special.

Cartoon Network, currently seen in 73.1 million U.S. homes and 145 countries around the world, is Turner Broadcasting System, Inc.'s 24-hour, ad-supported cable service offering the best in animated entertainment. Drawing from the world's largest cartoon library, Cartoon Network also showcases unique original ventures such as Sheep in the Big City, Courage the Cowardly Dog, Mike, Lu & Og, The Powerpuff Girls, Ed, Edd n Eddy, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, Dexter's Laboratory and Cartoon Cartoons. Since its launch in 1992, Cartoon Network has remained one of ad-supported cable's highest-rated networks. Cartoon Network's Web site is located at http://CartoonNetwork.com.

Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., an AOL Time Warner company, is a major producer of news and entertainment product around the world and the leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry.

Rating period: April 30 - May 27, 2001 Source: Turner Entertainment Research from Nielsen Media Research data.

CN: 'Come, Moonies... Believe our press release...'

Lead Ins & Lead Outs
Isn't he adorable?

Some of us here loved the old 3 hour Toonami block. It made a whole lot of sense. They'd put their 2nd highest rated show first (to get the block going) and then led to a crescendo with their best (Dragonball Z) on at 5pm --which is normally when the audience peters out for dinner. This way the Cartoon Network was able to hold onto many more viewers for longer periods.

Placing Dragonball Z at the end (or near the end) is known as a "Lead Out" in the business. Sailor Moon was often used as a "Lead In."

Being an afternoon Lead In meant that there was no Toonami audience to build on, so Sailor Moon often had the toughest time getting ratings --but nevertheless averaged the 2nd highest ratings in the block.

Also by being first, Sailor Moon did not detract viewers who hate those "girly" shows. If Sailor Moon had been positioned right before Dragonball Z, the Cartoon Network would have lost some viewers.

Today, in June 2001, viewers seem to be trying to find Dragonball Z and then switching channels. Toonami as a block seems dead.

Fans should know that the opposite is true in Primetime, where the Lead In can attract the most viewers and then the audience peters out during the evening. If you don't have a great Lead In, your whole night can suffer. This is why, YTV (for example) schedules Dragonball Z at 8pm.

Other Exciting Tidbits
Broadcasting And Cable

Also in Allison Romano & Joe Schlosser's story for Broadcasting and Cable magazine, these following excerpts:

"We'll host premieres of Cartoon Network shows on Kids' WB and their shows on our network to build a larger audience and give viewers more choice," said Tim Hall, Cartoon Network's executive vice president. The WB confirmed the evolving relationship. Cartoon Network and Kids' WB have only a 25% crossover in viewers--leaving a large, unduplicated audience to share, he said.

Then why is Kids' WB so afraid of Toonami???

At the same time, Brad Turell, a spokesman for Turner Broadcasting, said it's likely TNT will cherry-pick some shows from The WB for a second showing, probably on Monday and Tuesday nights.

Those second broadcasts would be scheduled for 10 p.m. ET, after The WB's schedule ends for the evening.

Both The WB and Cartoon Network are strong in the overall 6-11 core demographic. The Kids' WB skews more female and is very strong on Saturdays.

(Toonami's largest audience is over 11 years old and attracted a larger percentage of females during Sailor Moon.)

One example of integrating the channels' programming is Cartoon Network's upcoming show Samurai Jack. The first three episodes will premiere in August back-to-back as a movie. Then, for the next three Saturdays, the individual episodes will appear on the Kids' WB. "This reaches the audience they have cultivated and lets them sample our show for a limited time," Hall said.

We're seeing less and less reasons for paying for cable.

Promotional tie-ins will try to drive viewers between popular programming blocks. Kids' WB after-school shows will feature the Cartoon Network's prime time Toonami branding, which has a special host character and graphics. On Friday evenings, Cartoon Network will air a half-hour preview of Kids' WB programming.

Our Obligation
Have Ofuda, Will Travel

The Save Our Sailors campaign would like to say that it hopes that the Cartoon Network does very well with Toonami no matter where it places it. We hope that it would do so well that the network would be able to commission the remaining episodes of Sailor Moon.

If Toonami should perform poorly then we would like the network to consider programming the remaining episodes of the series elsewhere on its schedule.

However, as to selecting which networks or companies we think fans should write to, we have the obligation of picking the most likely to be able to commission such episodes several months from now. After looking into recent events, the Cartoon Network seems a less likely candidate to do so. We wish it weren't so but hope that proper action will be taken.

Ironically, it appears to most of us that the Cartoon Network's ratings will go up because of the sharing with Kids' WB and a lot of new, original programming--but will continue to downgrade Toonami since it does not own the series associated with it.

Evil Spirits, We Banish You!

As usual we cannot print Nielsen ratings which haven't been published before. We've been given access to them so long as we don't post them. We can describe them but cannot quote them. However, enough ratings have been published so that fans could get a total picture. Plus, AOL/Time Warner's press release reveals far more than it intended. (The Cartoon Network Research Department could respond at anytime if it should wish to do so.)

Broadcasting and Cable magazine reported in the story "Toons' Sibling Duets," written by Allison Romano (with additional reporting by Joe Schlosser) and dated May 21 that, "Cartoon Network's strength is its late-afternoon action-and-adventure "Toonami" block, which in April posted a 1.2 overall Nielsen rating of 849,000 households and 2.4 ratings among boys 9-14." This was when Toonami was on in the late afternoon for more than 2 hours.

Going against its "strength" WB-TV moved Toonami to 5 to 7pm on Monday, May 14 where the block dropped in ratings. Without 2 or 3 anime shows as a lead-in, the number one show ("Dragonball Z") also dropped in ratings but is still much higher than the block's average.

The claim of the rise in ratings from AOL/Time Warner does not compare Toonami ratings. They are comparing the 5 to 6pm ratings from a year ago. Of course the ratings for 5 to 6pm are higher, the (very temporary) rise was from adding a half-hour of one the network's top rated shows, "Dragonball Z." (Can you name what was on at 5:30 to 6pm in May 2000?) Ironically, "Dragonball Z" at 5 to 5:30pm was down from last year and from April. But when you lump the two half-hours together, the hour averages much higher from a year ago.

Further, the ratings & households cited are for one day only, May 25, and for one hour only, 5 to 6pm. The network did not want to publicize how Toonami performed during any other time, day or week.

The most telling, direct comparison is in the 9-14 age group. In April, ALL of Toonami averaged a 2.4 with BOYS ONLY. In May, their number one show, on their best day, for only one hour could only hit 2.7 with BOYS AND GIRLS. (There are actually much bigger drops but they are harder to explain.)

Fans could also note how the household numbers overlap at around 9-12 years since the network has lost so much of the fringe ages. (Overall, their biggest concern is the erosion of adults because of the Kids' WB programs--a real turn-off. The network hopes to win them back with a new block called "Adult Swim.")

Instead, the network claimed that they had set records for total day ratings in May which is true and for the most part not misleading. However, it should be noted that for most of the month, most of Toonami was on before 6pm. And due to some erratic scheduling, some fans ended up watching some non-Toonami shows in addition to watching Toonami.

The rest of the press release has more misleading information.

Back in August 2000, Daily Variety reported that, "The Cartoon Network scored its best numbers ever last week, tying for first place in primetime among all cable networks with an eye-opening 2.1 rating in cable homes."

Compare that to May, where for one week, they could only get a 2 hour block up to a 1.8 with the rest of primetime even further down. (And another annoying comparison of a special program to a non-special program in a slot a year ago.)

Yes, they won one week but lost the month and their position.

To be fair, Sweep months, such as May, are not for Cable Networks. We would expect them to get better ratings in non-Sweep months (especially with the new, original series they've got coming up).

So, in summation, all the Cartoon Network is claiming is that "Z Day" had great ratings compared to a normal day a year ago and that their Day schedule in May (which included over half a month of Toonami) also did better than a year ago.

(In July, another press release had even more misleading information but it did not concern Toonami. The network boasted of more daytime gains but at the expense of cannibalizing their primetime repeats & home video sales of their original shows.)

We wonder why this press release was ever written. Generally, they are ignored by media buyers (the people who buy commercial time for advertising agencies) and are usually directed at the public-at-large via the consumer press (you know, normal newspapers).

Such press releases are meant to put the best face on a bad situation and to spin public perception to sample a network. In other words, to give you the impression, "Look at what all these other people are watching! It must be good! You're missing out on something!" The movie companies do the same thing when they advertise, "The Number One Comedy In America!" (even though it maybe only 3rd or 4th because some action, special effects or dramas are doing better).

But we could not help but notice how this press release wasn't slanted for the public-at-large and instead seemed to make an appeal to current and former Toonami viewers who are online. Other than the anime sites listed at the top of this article we could not find any business or consumer publications or online sites that picked-up this story--probably because they knew better (their reporters could tell how misleading it was) and that it wasn't directed at them. Yet a number of anime online sites did.

It appears to us that the event, "Z Day," and the press release was aimed at the online audience in an attempt to keep Toonami viewers from abandoning the network. WB-TV doesn't want to lose any viewers. It would prefer to wean the audience off of the Japanese shows and onto AOL/Time Warner--owned series. (A desire we understand but are not crazy about.) So to Joseph Swaney, Steve Rice & Courtenay Purcell who wrote the press release, you get an A+.

But we are not here to cover such a story nor to critique anime news sites. In fact, we have otherwise loved the coverage on other sites and have found most of them very useful.

However, in this one particular instance, this press release was an attempt (and a successful one at that) to help mislead the online anime community--making our lives a little harder. (Some fans don't understand what's happening at the network and why we have to find another one.)

So what we'd like to suggest is that anime news websites should consider what a press release claims. Be careful of the headline you choose and why not offer some analysis? Likewise, we would like to suggest that fans consider what it is they're reading, whom it comes from and why.

We hope that the Cartoon Network changes its programming and scheduling so that Toonami could grow again.

We would like to thank the companies & individuals which provided us with the data for this story, and understandably, do not wish to be identified. However, a surprising amount of Nielsen ratings has been published and can be used to ascertain just which network is ahead or behind for almost any time of day or night. Other networks can be just as misleading in their press releases, so we would recommend taking a hard look at just which claims are being made.

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