You may have read the LA Times article from the other day that talks about a shift that’s currently underway at the Disney Channel. The interesting thing is that it included (all the way at the end) this quote from Jerry Beck:
“Before Eric got there, [Disney Channel] had a couple of mild hits, like ‘Kim Possible.’ They were doing derivative things. They were following trends,” Beck said. “Now, they’re leading trends.”
Now I don’t necessarily agree that Kim Possible was derivative, perhaps as a kind of show it was, but there’s been nothing like it since, and it still remains a rare, female-protagonist, show.
That notwithstanding, Jerry hits the bullseye with his point that creating derivative shows will not get you very far. We’ve seen it time and time again when a show get big and a whole host of imitators follow. It happened with The Simpsons and the only shows to last more than a season or two were FOX’s own.
So when it comes to animated TV, do networks tend to follow trends rather than make them? The answer is emphatically, yes. That is by far the less risk option. However, as SpongeBob SquarePants proves, creating a trend can lead to a very long (and insanely profitable) property.