This morning I read over on ToonZone about the [Adult Swim] block of programming taking up an extra hour, meaning it will now begin at 9pm every evening. The blog post makes some goo points about the various challenges inherent in such a move and discusses the possible cannibalization of viewers from Cartoon Network.
I personally don’t think it will matter all that much, although it is a strange move. [Adult Swim] viewers are normally male, under the age of 25 and are presumably relatively intelligent. Being in the same category, I know that I watch a growing amount of programmes online after their original broadcast.
This got me thinking, does the entire concept of “primetime television” even exist any more? I know plenty of people who record hit shows like Dexter, Weeds and pretty much anything on HBO to a DVR to watch later. I know I watch tons of stuff through Netlfix and to a lesser extent, Hulu and with so much content available online afterwards (legally or otherwise) there is a growing cohort of viewers for whom the schedule of the broadcaster means little or nothing.
My concern when it comes to the [Adult Swim] decision is whether or not the added hour will be filled with meaningful programming. Sure, an hour or two of Family Guy and American Dad is great, but when you’re tacking on another hour just to broadcast re-runs if syndicated shows rather than re-runs of original shows, then you’re heading down the path of becoming a ghost network. A better move would have been to increase their budget, perhaps let them make longer format shows or to actually hire some animators instead of relying heavily on interns.
If the time of broadcast does not factor into [Adult Swim] viewers plans as much as other networks, then adding an extra hour may not have the same affect that it would have had say, five years ago. I might be wrong and it may still work, but I do wonder whether the tech-savyness of the audience figured in their decision.