Media Relations: media commentary and criticism

Monday, May 07, 2007


-- television -- sci-fi and anime

Sci Fi Targets Late Night - 5/7/2007 9:47:00 AM - Broadcasting & Cable

In an attempt to lure younger viewers and expand the reach of its brand, Sci Fi Channel is launching Ani-Monday, a two-hour late-night block of anime programming. Set to premiere June 11, the slate will put the network in direct competition with Cartoon Network's late-night ratings powerhouse Adult Swim, which programs anime as well. Running from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m., the block will include acquired series, movies and shorts.

The content comes from Manga, one of three major U.S. anime distributors and a unit of Starz Media, which produces Sci Fi's live-action original Painkiller Jane, among other network shows.

Sci Fi, which signed a one-year deal with Starz, is aiming to better reach an 18- to 34-year-old male audience and convert those new viewers into fans of Sci Fi's other content. If successful, the move would lower the network's median age (currently about 45) and hopefully attract more advertising from young male-targeting categories, like movies and electronics. Sci Fi would then likely work the formula across other nights....

OK, so here's what I don't get about this:

Cartoon Network/Adult Swim has complained long and hard that with the sole, solitary exception of Inuyasha, People Will Not Watch Anime. Yet they complain when they don't get it. To be sure, I think at least a little of it is the scheduling -- Saturday nights is a horrendous time to try to woo the young adult audience, considerably worse even than Friday night, which is bad enough. And I do think that Sci Fi will probably do better programming on Monday nights -- albeit not necessarily better during the summer, but then again, they probably have almost no late night viewers during the summer.

I am mildly surprised that Sci Fi managed to yank the contract for Ghost in the Shell away from Adult Swim; that had seemed to be one of their anime staples, even if people weren't watching it all that much. (... Well, I was! Really!)

...The network recently got approval from parent company NBC Universal to start a business division, which is producing Sci Fi-branded comic books in partnership with Virgin Comics. Sci Fi is also considering feature films, videogames and mobile products. “This is part of a whole initiative to target a youth audience and figure out how we start to transform the Sci Fi brand away from just being a TV cable brand and more into a lifestyle brand that can move into other levels,” says Executive VP/GM Dave Howe....

Yeah ... well. Good luck with that. Seriously, the concept of Sci-Fi as a "lifestyle brand", whatever that may be, kind of doesn't work. I mean, when I think of "lifestyle brand", I think Martha Stewart or something like that. (Although, come to think of it, a Sci-Fi themed cooking show would be fascinating, for the geekly disaster factor if nothing else.)

Ah, well. I just want it to survive long enough for me to get my GitS fix. That'll do me. (Unless they decide to be both retro and edgy and do something like Cyber City Oedo, which has more cursing per second than any series I've ever seen. Even the guys on The Shield would think, "You people need to clean your language up a little.")

Posted by iain at 05:31 PM in category television