Some People Still Aren’t Getting It

This is a brief follow-up to Jason’s “Tooning In at Late Night”.

Recently, regarding the prospect of so-called classic cartoons airing in syndication, some optimistic wag posted this:

“I’d like to see smaller stations and affiliates relaunching morning, afternoon, and weekend toons. They’d probably make more in the long run on cartoons. Considering the syndication rights for some of the shows they run are pretty steep especially for current hit shows. 

They pay through the nose for syndication rights, all so they can bring in more viewers for that show, so they can profit from the advertising. Depending on the show they may eventually break even. While the original network and advertisers clean up.”

To which let me respond with the following:

File this one under “Not Gonna Happen”. That’s a nice dream, but a dream is all it is.

Here is your reality check: Syndicated cartoon blocks, be they on weekday mornings, afternoons or weekends, simply aren’t profitable nor viable in this day and age of 24/7 animation and kids’ entertainment cable networks. The syndication market is all but dead in this country; most of the cartoon studios currently operate under the umbrella of giant corporations, and they’re not going to lend these properties out to local, syndicated or even broadcast network markets, as they have no reason to do that and doing so wouldn’t benefit them in any way. Why should corporate giants like Disney, Warner Bros, Universal and Dreamworks (which recently acquired Classic Media) loan their wares out to local or syndicated markets to air for about 2 to 3 hours when they can just run these cartoons on their own cable channels which run all day long?

The entertainment industry has changed too much in the last 2 decades for a network/syndicated weekday afternoon block like a Kids’ WB! or a Fox Kids to work anymore. There’s nothing the Alphabet Networks can offer kids that the 24/7 cable channels don’t already offer them in spades. And for the minority of viewers who don’t have cable or satellite, the internet and home video fills that void.

Furthermore, nowadays most local affiliates and syndication markets have no desire to pick up cartoon blocks because they know they can’t compete with cable, satellite and the internet. In fact, companies like Tribune and Sinclair actually pressured WB to drop the afternoon toons because they were losing money. And speaking of money, once again, TV networks and stations do what makes them the most lettuce. Presently networks make more money running news shows, talk shows, court shows, game shows and infomercials than they would running cartoons, especially old cartoons, so they run, guess what? News shows, talk shows, court shows, game shows and infomercials. We aren’t going to see a magical return of syndicated cartoon blocks just because some peoples’ nostalgia demands it.

Things change. The TV market you’re describing doesn’t exist anymore. Sorry.

And ‘dat’s the name of that tune.

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