Tuesday, May 18, 2010

25 years ago in TV ratings PART 3: November 1985 Nielsens for animated shows in the weekday early fringe time period reported by network affiliates

Syndicated cartoons were not exclusively aired on independent stations in the eighties. While many of these half-hour toy commercials may not have qualified for airing on Saturday mornings due to big 3 networks standards, the local network affiliates had no problem carrying them on their Monday-Friday afternoon schedules. This was a sweet irony for many of these shows. In 1984 Tonka's marketing director Ray McDonald stated they initially wanted Challenge of the GoBots to be a network series1. The networks rejected GoBots as a Saturday morning show2 but like many of these toy cartoons it did ultimately find its way onto the network affiliates once it hit syndication.

The Nielsens differentiated between network and independent airings for shows in every time period including early fringe. This makes evaluating a clear 'winner' more complicated considering that the same show could rank in two totally different places between the two charts. Here then are the top ten kid rated shows aired during early fringe (4:30-7:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) for network affiliates as reported for the November 1985 ratings period, plus a few animated shows that fell outside the top 10.

Kids' Rank/ShareHousehold Rank/ShareProgram# of StationsNov '84 ShrFeb '85 ShrMay '85 Shr
01/3640/17He-Man & MotU15202018
02/3541/17Scooby Doo13211918
03/3433/18Tom & Jerry4211620
07/2754/13G.I. Joe3191919
08/2408/23Gimme A Break12212220
08/2413/21Diff'rent Strokes32222222
08/2416/21Laverne & Shirley3202223

Other animated shows outside the kids' top 10
13/2062/07Challenge of the GoBots6121311

Many of the same animated shows dominate much like they do on the independent stations' top ten for the same period. The Transformers, Thundercats, G.I. Joe, He-Man and She-Ra show up here just like on the independents list but what is different are their ranks. Most notably He-Man goes from 10th among kids on independent stations to first on the networks. Transformers and Thundercats stay about the same at the middle of the list. Big shout out to GoBots for cracking the top 20 on both charts. The come from nowhere surprise is Voltron, who on the independent stations was ranked 37th but on the networks ties for 8th place! Such grand variances in network/independent ranking as illustrated by He-Man and Voltron almost make me wish there was one consolidated early fringe list with the network and independent shares combined. I imagine it could be done if the ratings points for each show were combined between the two, assuming a single ratings point accounts for the same number of households on each list. But since the independents had a much larger proportion of animated shows than the network affiliates did, many cartoons that ranked outside of the network top 50 but made it on the independent list would get left out. Shows like Robotech, M.A.SK. and Tranzor-Z are notably absent from the network list, not to mention Woody Woodpecker who dominated the independent list for multiple ratings periods in a row but doesn't crack the network top 50. I guess if all I'm interested in was the top ten it might work.

NEXT TIME ON RATINGSTASTIC CARTOONOCALYPSE: The February 1986 independent sweeps!

1Philip H. Dougherty (1984, January 25). GOBOTS SET U.S. INVASION. The New York Times.
2Robin L. Palley (1984, July 25). LOOK OUT, CABBAGE KID. Philadelphia Daily News.


Hooper_X said...

I'm just now seeing these. I'd guess that the reason Woody Woodpecker was so popular on independent stations was that the WW syndication pack was extremely affordable for one reason or another. Kind of a second-string cartoon character with a ton of material available...

Evil King Macrocranios said...

Now that I think about it, I watched a shitload of Woody Woodpecker when I was a kid.


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