Interpreting the Data Behind Toonami’s First Four Weeks

Nearly a month has passed since Toonami hit the airwaves for the first time in almost half a decade. At the time of the announcement, many were elated. It appeared to be a clear sign of the industry listening to the demands of the smallest voices. Since the block’s debut, the “new attraction” sheen has begun to wear thin, and it is now time for Toonami to stand on its own two feet.

In the weeks that followed, the general focus on the block’s ratings have fallen by the wayside. People were, and still are quick to chime in that the block did well in its first week. However, there have been few discussions about how things have fared in the weeks that followed. Since that day, though, hard data made its way through the channels, courtesty of stat-trackers Son of the Bronx. If we take inspect the figures, we can see a trend forming as we get further away from the premiere week.

Title Air Time Rank: 5/27 Rank: 6/3 Rank: 6/10 Rank: 6/17
Bleach 12:00AM – 12:30AM 90 61 84 87
Deadman Wonderland 12:30AM – 1:00AM 129 122 137 123
Casshern: Sins 1:00AM – 1:30AM 137 122 144 142
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 1:30AM – 2:00AM 142 138 146 145
Ghost in the Shell: Second Gig 2:00AM – 2:30AM 143 141 148 146
Cowboy Bebop 2:30AM – 3:00AM 145 139 149 149
Bleach 3:00AM – 3:30AM 147 142 147 147
Deadman Wonderland 3:30AM – 4:00AM 149 146 150 150
Casshern: Sins 4:00AM – 4:30AM 150 148 151 151
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood 4:30AM – 5:00AM 151 150 152 152
Ghost in the Shell: Second Gig 5:00AM – 5:30AM 152 151 153 154
Cowboy Bebop 5:30AM – 6:00AM 153 153 154 153

As expected, week-one viewership was fairly high. Viewership showed a clear downward trend from the beginning of the block, with the shows that came earliest in the block performing the strongest. In particular, the midnight airing of Bleach out-performing numerous regulars in the Adult Swim lineup, including the two episodes of The Boondocks that preceded it, while the Deadman Wonderland premiere beat out the week’s Metalocalypse airing. After the 1:00 point, though, the ratings begin to drop sharply, to the point that the 2:00 showing of Ghost in the Shell barely escapes the bottom 10. None of the post 3:00 re-airs were able to climb out of the bottom of the network’s overall ratings, and seemed to serve as a reminder that the network’s key audience would rather spend hours watching Family Guy reruns, of which every 3:00AM re-air broke the network’s top 50 watched programs.

What is most interesting is the truly impressive bump in viewership the block received on week two. Bleach managed to claw its way up twenty places alone, not to mention the general gains in viewership across the board. While it’s difficult to pinpoint just where the jump came from, we would be remiss to ignore the general buzz that pervaded a number of sources, from social media to Variety. People talked about Toonami which, in turn, got people interested. On top of this, we must account for comments by figures within the industry, which further galvanized the core market. They certainly weren’t the only factors in such a large bump, though we would be foolish to believe that they didn’t have even a minimal impact on the overall ratings.

After this point, though, the ratings just collapsed. In general, we saw all Toonami shows drop to a point below the two prior weeks. There was little movement between weeks 3 & 4, which suggests that the ratings may have finally settled into their “natural” ranks in the market. While this may be a good thing in general, as it implies that a true measure of demand may have finally been reached, the numbers are certainly troubling. In particular, the bottom-ten ratings for the network are postiively dominated by Toonami’s shows.

“What does this mean?”

Well, dear reader, it means that much of the bluster and begging for Toonami may have been little more than the voices of an extremely vocal minority. And, upon getting what they wanted, this group paid attention to their latest prize, until the latest distraction came their way. Once the greater community fell apart, the core market was all that remained to sustain the product. And, unfortunately, the core market is an infinitesimally small slice of Adult Swim’s overall viewer-base.

Since the network can’t seem to retain a large enough base outside of the core, I wouldn’t be surprised to start hearing the conversations of an under-performing Toonami arise once again in the coming weeks. How they will surface or if they will surface is unknown at this point, but I don’t doubt that there are conversations about what to do in the very likely possibility that Toonami fails as an experiment. How the block is marketed and received going forward will be key to its overall survival. We can only hope that both the viewer and the network are willing to do their part to ensure its survival, if that is what they truly desire.

About the author

Samantha Ferreira

Samantha Ferreira is Anime Herald’s founder and editor-in-chief. A Rhode Island native, Samantha has been an anime fan since 1992, and an active member of the anime press since 2002, when she began working as a reviewer for Anime Dream. She launched Anime Herald in 2010, and continues to oversee its operations to this day. Outside of journalism, Samantha actively studies the history of the North American anime fandom and industry, with a particular focus on the 2000s anime boom and bust. She’s a huge fan of all things Sakura Wars, and maintains series fansite Combat Revue Review when she has free time available. When not in the Anime Herald Discord, Samantha can typically be found on Bluesky.

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