A Look At The Hub

Rounding out this week’s look at the main US kids channels is newcomer, The Hub, which if it feels I’ve already covered it, you aren’t far wrong. I recently wrote a post on the channel’s biggest hit, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic.

The Hub is basicially a reincarnation of Discovery Kids and is a joint venture between Discovery Communications and toy maker, Hasbro. Interestingly enough, no content was carried over, so The Hub really is having to prove itself in the tough world of kids programming.

Surprisingly enough, it seems to have done quite well in the year and a bit it’s been around. Good quality content including MLP, Strawberry Shortcake and Transformers have helped there. Yup, they’re all toyetic, but are also much, much better than their former 1980s incarnations.

The only handicap is that Discovery Kids was carried on relatively few cable and satellite systems, and not at all on  basic packages. The house I’m staying at has Time Warner Cable and it places the Hub waaaaay up in the 130s along with Disney XD and the other Nick channels. Having said that, word of the shows has gotten around and the channel has more than made its goals for the first year.

The Hub does seem to skew more towards girls and is the only channel out of all of them that makes this noticeable. In that respect, it can be seen as a bit of a balance to the boy-scentric channels like Disney XD. All a good thing in my opinion.

Admittedly enough, its surprising that someone would launch a new channel now, just as internet viewing is starting to really kick off. The Hub required a masive investment and while it will surely pay off for Discovery/Hasbro, one can’t help but wonder if it’s the last of a dying breed.

We’re unlikely to see a brand new kids channel launch again, and it remains to be seen whether or not kids are capable of utilising the internet for viewing. They seem to be able to work iPads fairly well, so perhaps the next big breakthrough will be a child-friendly interface for watching shows.

Overall, the Hub is OK. Yeah, the shows are good, and I’m dead happy for the likes of Lauren Faust and the gang of awesome artists she’s kept employed as a result. The only faults I could find is the proximity of the shows to established toys (although that it probably a given, seeing as who’s funding it all) and the fact that as a channel, it remains to be seen if it can follow up it’s initial hits with others.

A Look At Nickelodeon

Sorry Viacom, as someone whose getting ever closer to becoming an old fart, I have a tough time accepting change for the sake of change.

As a joke, I thought about titling the post, “The SpongeBob Channel” but that wouldn’t be completely accurate even if it is uncomfortably close to the truth.

The yellow one has done well for the channel and it is still quite hard to believe that he’s been around for a full 10 years. He seems to remain fairly popular but it must be said, he’s drifted dangerously close to the cabre of shows that use “DVD specials” to stick around past their best by date.

Of course Nickelodeon does have a lot more programming than SpongeBob, and like Disney, it utilises multiple channels to broadcast them. Besides the main channel, Nickelodeon also has ones for the pre-schoolers (Nick Jr.), the teenagers (Teennick) and it’s library of old cartoon shows (Nicktoons).

Focusing on the main channel, Nickelodeon shares an idea with Cartoon Network in that its programming changes in the evening. The difference is that Nick at Night is aimed at a far broader audience than [adult swim].

Like Disney, Nickelodeon airs a mixture of animation and live-action. Current shows include T.U.F.F Puppy, The Adventures of Fanboy and Chum Chum, Winx [check] and more than one offshoot from a DreamWorks film (think Penguins of Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda).

Nickelodeon was (until very recently when it lost to the Disney Channel) the clear winner when it comes to audience numbers and it managed to do so by not chasing any particular segment. It didn’t go exlusively for boys or girls but it has played safe with programming that appeals to both genders and laughed all the way to the bank.

Nickelodeon also has huge brand recognition that even Disney can’t match and they have been very good at having their well-oiled marketing and merchandising machines continually backing up hit shows.

The only area where Nickelodeon has been a bit weak is getting their older content out on DVD or even streaming. That is changing as I see more and more old shows work their way onto services like Netflix. They’ve also improved access to more recent stuff too, T.U.F.F. Puppy is now available to stream or buy via Netflix and Amazon.

Overall, Nickelodeon may have lost the crown, but it is still the best overall network. They may not have as much animation as Cartoon Network or the vast libarary of Disney to draw on, but they more than make that up with the quality of their shows. Something they are surely aware of, and work hard at as a result.

A Look at Cartoon Network

Via: Wikipedia (yes, I’m old school)

Today’s the turn of Carton Network, a channel that I used to watch religiously at my friend’s house back it had a lot of Wacky Races on it.

There’s a few hardcore folks out there who feel that calling it “Cartoon Network” is now false advertising considering that it has live-action as well as animation on it. That’s missing the point though, because when compared to the other networks, it still has by far the most and broadest range of animation of the lot.

While there are the channel’s current offerings in Adventure Time, Regular Show and the Amazing World of Gumball, it’s somewhat dismaying that the network seems to banish slightly older shows like Billy and Mandy and Foster’s from the schedule. They then remain in limbo before they’re considered ‘old’ enough to be broadcast on sister channel, Boomerang (which by they way, features the likes of The Secret Saturdays and Johny Test if that didn’t confuse you enough already).

In fairness, there’s nothing particularly ‘wrong’ with the network, it just seems to be all over the place when it comes to the programming. I mean, who are they targeting? Yes, they’re gunning for 6-14 year old boys but how well do they compete with Disney XD, a channel created for and devoted solely to, boys? My guess is they’re coming up short.

They had a massive hit in the original Ben 10, but they’ve been riding that horse for years now with nothing similar appearing to replace it. On top of that, there was/is the bizarre situation where the network is in the same corporate family as Warner Bros. and DC (comics) yet the content of those divisions are more often seen on other channels owned by competitors!

That doesn’t make an awful lot of sense as CN could be leveraging those libraries, and those that it owns; think Looney Tunes and Tom & Jerry. Yes, there is the new Looney Tunes Show, but that simply updates the characters to the modern era in a manner that keeps the characters alive but in no way endangers the viewing numbers with Baby Boomer content.

Cartoon Network has been lurching from hit show to hit show as of late but in fairness to them they’ve been on the ball for Adventure Time when it comes to merchandise, an area they’ve traditionally been spectacularly weak in.

It would be nice to see some more cohesion between shows as well as a more robust lineup that doesn’t skew so hard towards different tastes.

Overall, Cartoon Network remains the best choice of all the channels for animation, but it has been slipping of late, and it is still uncertain how far that will continue.

A Look At The Disney Channel

Via: TV With Thinus

This week, I’m sequestered in lovely Western New York; a quiet part of the country where not a lot happens in the winter because of the snow. So that’s a pefect excuse to stay warm indoors with some TV, and while there is a lot a Top Gear on BBC America, there is also the four kid’s cable channels: The Disney Channel, Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon and newcomer, The Hub.

So using this extended time off, I figured I would write an overview of the four channels. Today, it’s the turn of the Disney Channel.

Started by Ron Miller back in the 80s the channel is unique in that it carries no  commercial advertising whatsoever. Although you should not construe this a as no advertising whatsoever, as the channel still has breaks where shows from other Disney channels, Disney films and misc. things are presented to the viewer.

The range of animation is a bit more limited than it used to be. As of right now, besides the pre-school shows, Phineas and Ferb and Fish Hooks take up the majority of the animation aimed at older kids. However, where the Disney Channel excels is that it can draw upon the vast, vast, vast library of the Disney Company and it regularly broadcasts movies that are rarely seen anywhere else, such as Snow White, Aladdin and pretty much all the Pixar films.

A direct comparison with its competitors is a bit unfair though, as Disney recently nixed Toon Disney in favour of starting a new channel aimed at boys, hence Disney XD and its own share of animated programming (namely Kick Buttowski).

Overall, the Disney Channel isn’t perfect, but it isn’t completely horrible either. It would just be nice to see more time for animation and less for mind-numbing kidcoms that burn through their child stars at a faster rate than I go through delicious Tim Hortons coffee.

Six Traditional Pieces Christmas Animation

Following on from yesterday’s post, here are some traditional forms of Christmas animation.

Christmas means different things for different people. American’s generally rate A Christmas Story as their top film, but it is completely unknown in Europe (a situation that resulted in some near heart attacks in more than one house I’ve visited). Naturally there are reciprocal films, but thankfully animation seems to be fairly neutral in that regard with Christmas favourites being shared across the Atlantic.

So here are six most loved Christmas specials/films for all to enjoy:

The Snowman (a true classic from the moment it aired, although a recent, shocking announcement suggests a new version is coming with new animation and updated music)

Via: Wikipedia

Mickey’s Christmas Carol (Disney’s take on a classic tale sparked Mickey’s first outing in more than a decade)

Via: Wikipedia

Rudolph The Red-Nosed Reindeer (more so an American tradition, it is nonetheless well-known abroad)

Via: The Enchanted World of Rankin/Bass

Frosty the Snowman (another Rankin-Bass creation, our version we taped from the TV had not one, but two apologies for the poor quality of the sound!)

Via: Christmas Specials Wikia

A Charlie Brown Christmas (this one goes without saying)

Via: TV Guide

How the Grinch Stole Christmas (so does this one)

Via

And for Irish people everywhere, it’s not animated, but it isn’t Christmas without it:

Four Non-Traditional Pieces of Christmas Animation

Yes, it is the season and coming tomorrow is a list of Six Traditional Pieces of Christmas Animation, but today’s post is about four, non-Traditional pieces of Christmas animation.

What could that possibly mean?

Well, on TV around Christmas, the normal programming schedules get scrapped in favour of showing films, and lots of them. Less so in recent years, but still quite prevalent (at least in Ireland and the UK), these films are a great mix of family fare and films that you wouldn’t normally see at other times of the year, such as Spinal Tap and pretty much any Mel Brooks film. I once tried to explain to the fiancée that Irish people’s favourite Christmas film was almost consistently polled to be Back to the Future for the very reason that’s it’s a Christmas staple. She called me weird.

So, without further adieu, here’s the top four non-Traditional Christmas films:

Mary Poppins

Via: ItThing.com

Any Pixar Film (more so A Bug’s Life and Monster’s Inc. but always at least one premiere)

Via: The Pixar Times

Shrek (including the various sequels)

Yup, he sure looks festive doesn't he?

Via: DreamWorks on Wikia

Studio Ghibli (that wonderful channel, Film4, can be relied upon to broadcast plenty of Studio Ghibli films around Chiristmas, the early mornings are well worth it).

 Via: Cartoon Brew

My Life as a Teenage Robot Now on DVD!

All three seasons of one of the most underrated cartoons of the last decade are now on DVD through Amazon. At $19.99, they aren’t the cheapest, but seeing as this show is well overdue for a release and that DVD is in the twilight years of its existence, you should consider it a worthwhile investment.

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

The Atlanta Braves Oppose Pixar’s ‘Brave’ Trademark Application

Hilarious image shamelessly yoinked from Filmdrunk

I’m really not quite sure what to make of this. According to /film (who got it from Stitch Kingdom), the Atlanta Braves baseball team have filed an objection to Disney/Pixar’s use of the word “Brave” as a trademark for the upcoming film, Brave.

Trademark law make a distinction between singular and plural versions of a word, but that has not stopped the baseball team from claiming that:

that damages will occur as a result of Disney’s trademarks being approved as they have used the singular form before on merchandise and insist it is common for fans, media, et. al. to use the singular form when referring to a single player, whereas the pluralized form refers to the entire team.”

Long story short, they’re saying that by Disney trademarking ‘Brave’, poor Joe Public might get confused between a baseball player and a red-haired Scottish heroine who lives in the middle ages.

Yup, that sure is real confusing, especially as one is an actual, real-life team of people playing sports for money and the other is a fictional character who only exists within the film (and on related merchandise).

There’s no way this objection should fly although, as ever, “discussions are ongoing” between the two parties. So expect an “agreement” to come eventually.

Just what a waste of resources though and it doesn’t exactly put the Braves in a good light either, what with the pettiness of their claim and all.

TONIGHT IN NYC: It’s The 2011 ASIFA-East Animation Art Auction!

Apologies for the late notice, but while this is an event that I normally attend and willingly part with my hard earned cash in support of a good cause, I unfortunately have a final presentation in class tonight. Seeing as a good chunk of my final grade (and therefore the tuition I coughed up for it) depends on it, I won’t be making the trek to New York this time.

However, that should not preclude you in the slightest from swinging by the SVA on 23rd St (between 2nd and 3rd) at 7pm and heading on up to the ampitheatre and parting with your hard earned cash in exchange for some great animation art.

For a full list of the lots up for bid as well as pictures of everything, visit the aNYmator blog.

ASIFA-East Animation Art Auction
7:00 pm SVA Amphitheatre
209 E. 23rd Street, 3rd Floor