The Whole Concept of ‘Primetime’ As A Going Concern

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.

3 Comments on “The Whole Concept of ‘Primetime’ As A Going Concern

  1. Hi Charles,
    Interesting post. A few small corrections from me, though. Its untrue that Adult Swim shows don’t hire animators and engage interns instead. It is true skilled interns have been used to do significant additional animation work on series such as Super Jail, (and Comedy Central’s Ugly Americans) but that’s because its creators wanted to make a product that far exceeded the budget Adult Swim or Comedy Central provides. These budgets are designed for script driven/audio driven shows, where the visuals don’t do the heavy lifting. Super Jail reversed that formula as a production and therefore had to utilize a different way to get it accomplished. I’m not defending that model nor criticizing it in correcting you. Just putting it in context.

    Also, the Adult Swim demographic goes further than you think. They say their shows are for 18-34 year old males.

    • Hi Dave,

      Thanks for clearing that up (you are much more in the know than I am). I apologise for not framing my thoughts a bit better (I was already 5 minutes late for work when I posted it this morning) and I never intended to allude to [Adult Swim] taking advantage of anyone. Saying as much would certainly be a lie.

      You’re right, though, that their budget does tend to favour more script-heavy shows, thus cutting down on animation costs. What I was attempting to say was that an increased budget for such shows could help reduce the circumstances where interns would be needed.

      Personally I thought Superjail was an awesome looking show that obviously had a lot of extremely talented folks working on it. I guess I was just dismayed that the creators were forced into the arrangement they were in as a result of the small budget set by the network. They didn’t want to compromise on quality and I salute them for it.

      As for the demographic thing, thanks for clearing that up as well, I was playing it safe when I guessed 25 years. 🙂

    • On a related note, my girlfriend called me a “bloghead” this morning alluding (of course) to Lucy Van Pelt’s recurring description of Charlie Brown 🙂

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