Yesterday, TV Media Insights released the weekly ratings for Toonami’s Labor Day Weekend run. The numbers, which were provided by Nielsen, are as follows:
12:00AM Evangelion 2.22 0.8 HH, 1.097 million
2:30AM Kick Heart 0.5 HH, 708,000
2:45AM Star Wars: Clone Wars 0.5 HH, 638,000
3:15AM Big O/An 0.4 HH, 599,000
3:45AM Kick Heart 0.4 HH, 618,000
4:00AM Fullmetal: Brotherhood 0.5 HH, 652,000
4:30AM Cowboy Bebop 0.4 HH, 584,000
5:00AM Inuyasha 0.5 HH, 646,000
5:30AM Inuyasha 0.5 HH, 681,000
The big winner of the weekend was Evangelion, which pulled in roughly 1.1 million viewers between 12:00AM and 2:30AM. Kick Heart was the second winner, with 708,000 people tuning in to see the 15-minute short. On the surface, the numbers seem impressive. 1.1 million sets of eyeballs is nothing to sneeze at, especially on a holiday weekend, where viewership tends to decline.
Even with this in mind, though, I couldn’t help but question whether this was a genuine bump, or just the standard patterns repeating themselves. Let’s take a look at the previous week’s (8/24-8/25) numbers:
12:00AM – 12:30AM – Bleach, 1.103 million
12:30AM – 1:00AM – Naruto, 1.145 million
1:00AM – 1:30AM – One Piece, .953 million
1:30AM – 2:00AM – Soul Eater, .909 million
2:00AM – 2:30AM – Sword Art Online, .917 million
2:30AM – 3:00AM – IGPX, .662 million
3:00AM – 3:30AM – Star Wars: Clone Wars, .683 million
3:30AM – 4:00AM – Big O, .574 million
4:00AM – 4:30AM – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, .563 million
4:30AM – 5:00AM – Cowboy Bebop, .560 million
5:00AM – 5:30AM – Inuyasha, .688 million
5:30AM – 6:00AM – Inuyasha, .741 million
Numbers for the week prior to this were roughly in line with what was recorded, and excluded. The numbers were down from the previous week, but the overall pattern of viewing.
If we look specifically at the 12:00AM-2:30AM block that Evangelion occupied, we can see that the block fluctuates in its overall viewership. While Eva failed to seal the same numbers as Naruto. However, they did align closely with that or Bleach’s slot. While this may seem like a loss overall, the 1.1 million Eva viewers greatly out-performed the ratings that One Piece, Soul eater, and Sword Art brought in during the previous week. Similarly, Kick Heart saw a gain of about 100,000 viewers over IGPX during its previous time slot.
While Evangelion did see a loss in ratings in comparison to Naruto’s performance, we can argue that film saw a net gain overall. It’s not the earth-shattering totals the raw statistics seem to tout, but the special showing did allow for the network to maintain numbers during a holiday week. This is a fairly important achievement, as the weekend of 8/24 saw declines from the previous week of about 10%.
For Cartoon Network, this is important, as it shows that a slow bleeding is finally starting to level off. We’ll have to wait until next weekend’s numbers hit to see if this is the case, though, as it’ll be a standard weekend, with no extraneous events to affect viewership. If we see the numbers rise or hold steady, it will hopefully be a leading indicator that the drop on 8/24 was the last. This is fairly important to Adult Swim as a whole, as improving numbers means that they can continue to justify the price of their ad-space (via commercials, TOMM’s game reviews, and the like). At the same time, the revenues generated can be used to acquire and new content, and stack line-ups with stronger titles. For example, if we look at the charts, IGPX is the biggest weak link in the lineup, as we see a sharp drop after Sword Art, which indicates that roughly a third of all viewers tune out when IGPX starts. With greater funding and revenues, the network could work to replace this title sooner rather than later, as it’s a general liability that repels large portions of the audience. This becomes even more apparent when we see the viewership grow at 3:00AM, when logically, it should start falling off due to standard timing.
With this in mind, it will be interesting to see how Toonami fares in the coming weekend. Since it is a return to normal viewing, we should see the numbers remain more or less constant. However, viewer behavior is difficult to track, and we can only speculate as to what will happen at this point.