Dark Knite’s second questions was:
I have been wondering for a long time why Justice League Unlimited airs only once a week when it is such an excellent show. I liked the former show better, of course but there are a lot of us old comic buffs out here that want more. One show once a week isn’t enough, and I can’t see how all of these obviously inferior cartoons are keeping the Justice League out.
Ah, now what we’re running into here is a demographic problem that the DC Animated shows have had since the original run of Batman: The Animated Series. On one hand you have the producers and the fans who love the sophisticated continuing storylines and on the other you’ve got the network and the advertisers who want to hit the key 6-11 kids marketing demographic. It’s part of the battle that saw the replacement of the BTAS franchise with the Batman Beyond series and the now famous controversy over the cut/uncut version of Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker. Justice League suffers from some of the same problems. It’s premier had the largest 18-34 ratings in Cartoon Network’s history and it reached equal numbers of viewer in the 6-11 and the 18-34 age ratings brackets.
Traditionally the big TV networks have never really shown cartoon fans much respect – the standard practise for showing network cartoons is an infinite loop with new episodes dribbled in randomly. Cartoon Network is a lot better than that, but they have still inherited the daytime syndication style infinite loop for a lot of their programming. Where Cartoon Network transcends this is with their crossover shows, like Justice League, that push across the demographics. I personally feel that Cartoon Network are treating Justice League more like a normal primetime network program than it does a regular cartoon. There will be about 26 episodes this year for Justice League Unlimited and that’s about the same as a normal network series.
What I’m arguing is that Justice League’s crossover appeal means that it scheduled like an adult network program. And network programming is dominated by the rating sweeps. These are four key months (February, May, June and November) whose ratings determine local advertising rates and where new content is preferentially shown to bring in as many viewers as possible. And now we get to the point of this ramble ? because Justice League Unlimited is treated as a first run primetime show it’s also marketed and exploited like one.
The rule for program exploitation is that you go exclusive with a high profile identifiable timeslot, then a DVD release. Once the DVD window has passed you sell the season on for syndication and concentrate on new material. Taking Justice League Unlimited as separate from the original Justice League series its still in the first run/DVD window section and it would be financially illogical to prempt future releases by launching into the infinite repeat cycle (effectively syndication) before they’ve made as much money as possible. They’re not going to want to repeat episodes that people will be buying.
Also there is not enough Unlimited episodes to repeat in the daily loop. We all think of Unlimited as the third season of Justice League, but Cartoon Network seems to be considering it as a different show. They’d want to concentrate on it and keep the original two-seasons out of the way to prevent confusion. And up shot of that is that the first season could conceivably get a DVD boxed release sooner than we’d have otherwise suspected, but I’m not going to hold my breath.