I’m asking this in a deadly serious tone, the pilot episode for the upcoming Cartoon Network series Steven Universe slipped online the other day, but was quickly yanked before anyone really knew what was going on. The episode itself (notto tease you any further) looks extremely promising with some lovely animation in addition to a superb cast of characters.
Why CN Should Know Better
The reason I pose this question is because Cartoon Network (of all networks) should know what wonders can be worked when a short is posted online in advance of the main series. The reason is simple, they’ve been here before with Adventure Time.
Yes, the original Random! Cartoons short was posted online after being broadcast on Nickelodeon. While many felt the short was too weird for a proper series, viewers disagreed and the numbers quickly racked up into the millions. Naturally this gave serious weight to the notion that there was demand for a full series and Cartoon Network dutifully picked it up after Nickelodeon’s exclusivity clause lapsed.
Needless to say, the show is one of the most popular animated TV shows of the past five years and has been the cornerstone of Cartoon Network’s audience growth.
Why Steven Universe is a Case of Deja Vu
So beside the obvious reason why a short would leak online (hint: people like to watch stuff), why would CN pull it ever so quickly? While they naturally want to keep things under wraps as long as possible, that’s pretty much gone to seed now that the cat is out of the bag so to speak.
If anything, Adventure Time proves that keeping a short online only adds to audience anticipation for the full series. Now as a network executive, wouldn’t you rather have a large audience waiting in rapt anticipation than to have to pay for advertising and marketing to accomplish the same result?
Steven Universe ought to be available online, even if it differs from the final product. It never hurt Adventure Time and it is unlike to hurt this show. Quite simply, Cartoon Network have to realise that they are in competition with web series now as well. Bravest Warriors is surely proof of that, and by hiding content away, they are doing themselves no favours at all.