Yesterday, TV By the Numbers revealed the ratings highlights for the past week. Of particular interest to us, obviously, was the overall reception of Adult Swim’s Toonami revival. In particular, the block saw several titles dominate among a number of age groups.
For the general audiences in the age group of 18-24 years, Bleach and Deadman Wonderland both captured the top spot for their time slots. For males ages 18-24, as well as the broader 18-34 age range, Bleach and Deadman Wonderland, and Casshern all took the crown of their timeslots. Deadman Wonderland was the particular performer for the evening, as the show’s viewership saw a jump of 14% over the previous year among the general audience, ages 18-24.
For a first night, this sounds great, fantastic even, doesn’t it?
Well… yes and no.
“What do you mean,” you may ask. To be honest, ratings are only as useful as the numbers that stand behind them. And, unfortunately, the hard numbers haven’t been released in a form that can be published. So, lacking this, we must consult other sources on the matter. Fortunately, Adult Swim & Cartoon Network vice president of strategic marketing and promotions Jason DeMarco hit Twitter to offer his two cents on the situation. DeMarco stated that “It did OKAY. Not bad but not measurably better than the week before. We need to do better. Hopefully we will!”
Already, the comments are flying with reckless abandon. “How can this be?” “He should be happy about the turnout!”
DeMarco’s statement should give pause to a number of viewers. The company clearly had high hopes for the re-launch, given the positive word of mouth and general enthusiasm across the board. I wouldn’t doubt that these hopes were inflated, once positive comments on social media began pouring in. And, while it’s very possible that more people tuned in to see Toonami return to the airwaves, the volume matters little outside of the selected Nielsen group.
The Nielsen ratings are the lifeblood of television. Programming lives and dies by these numbers, since networks use them to determine who watches their programs, and advertisers use them to determine the value of a given slot. As the number of users rises, and the demographic spread grows, the slot becomes a more enticing venue to pitch product. Networks can demand a higher price for their airtime, and advertisers will become more willing to pay, since they have a higher chance of earning a return on their investment. This symbiotic nature of advertising ensures that new shows are created (or in the case of Toonami, licensed) and blocks get filled.
In the case of Toonami, a higher rated block would mean that the 3AM repeat run would become less likely, since the network can focus on filling their entire time allotment with new titles and bumps. And, while this isn’t likely right now, if we take this train to the absolute extreme, a powerhouse-performing Toonami would generate not only enough revenue to justify its Saturday run, but also a potential spots on Sunday or Monday as well.
So, while it’s encouraging to hear that Toonami’s launch did decently, it’s not too unusual to want the product to do better. As the weeks go on and the programming settles into its routine, we’ll see corrections in the ratings until they settle into a consistent norm. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the numbers trend upward, but the more likely scenario is that they will progress downward from their current highs.