Which U.S. kidnet has the best fall schedule? As the summer draws to a close and a crop of fall debuts vie to draw kids back to the TV, we consulted a panel of 20 children's programming experts from around the...
September 1, 2000

Which U.S. kidnet has the best fall schedule? As the summer draws to a close and a crop of fall debuts vie to draw kids back to the TV, we consulted a panel of 20 children’s programming experts from around the world to find out.

The programmers were asked to rate each fall sked and choose the best show airing in each time slot. They told us what they hated and loved about the lineups, and network execs were given a chance to expound on their programming strategies.

The process

Panelists were asked to visit a secret website and review a master grid showing the fall skeds for eight major U.S. kidnets. Each programmer then selected the best show airing in each peak viewing time slot and rated each net’s sked on a scale of one to five (five being the best). The show with the highest number of votes in each slot earned slot winner status and the overall ratings were averaged and converted to letter grades. The members of the panel are not directly affiliated with any of the networks in the report.

Greg Childs, head of programming,

children’s (digital), BBC, London, England

Jorge Contreras, programming director,

Promofilm SA, Buenos Aires, Argentina

John Cowsill, manager, film and family channels,

Sky Network Television, Mount Wellington, New Zealand

Paula Taborda dos Guaranys, programming and acquisitions coordinator, TV Futura, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Sidney Iwanter, VP of programming,

Odyssey Network, Studio City, California

Frances James, children’s acquisitions programmer, TVOntario, Toronto, Canada

David Kleeman, executive director, American Center for Children and Media, Chicago, Illinois

Andrea Lang, head of children’s and animation,

RTL II, Grunwald, Germany

Karen Lee, programming manager,

Singapore Cable Vision, Singapore

Sandie Lee, VP of programming,

Singapore Cable Vision, Singapore

David Mercer, deputy controller of children’s programs, Carlton Television, London, England

Adrian Mills, creative head, children’s,

youth and daytime, CBC, Toronto, Canada

Paula Parker, VP of programming and production,

YTV, Toronto, Canada

Rodrigo Piza, GM, Locomotion Channel,

Miami Beach, Florida

Alena Polednakova, chief editor, acquired feature films and series, Czech Television,

Praha 4, Czech Republic

Susan Ross, VP and GM, Treehouse TV, Toronto, Canada

Jan Rubes, head of program acquisitions,

Czech Television, Praha 4, Czech Republic

Daniel Soles, director of broadcasting,

WTTW-TV, Chicago, Illinois

Preben Vridstoft, head of children and youth department, Danish Broadcasting Corporation, Soeborg, Denmark

Joanna Webb, program acquisitions manager,

YTV, Toronto, Canada

Nickelodeon: B

With many more time slot winners than any other kid network, Nickelodeon’s fall sked came in first by a long shot in our survey. Programmers noted that Nick’s strength lay squarely in the consistent quality of its individual shows, rather than in any scheduling or marketing wizardry.

In fact, the only negative comments our panel had are that the scheduling lacks imagination and the shows don’t take risks. This was perhaps unfair, as Nickelodeon seems to be well on its way to address that concern with fall debuts that don’t fall within the slots our panel voted on, such as Pelswick, probably the first animated show for kids starring a quadriplegic, and The Brothers Garcia, Nick’s first live-action comedy to feature a Latino family.

‘Nickelodeon has had a long history of providing diverse programming for kids,’ says Marjorie Cohn, senior VP of current series. ‘But this year, we looked at places we perhaps weren’t serving all kids.’

Nick has a history of avoiding a splashy fall launch, preferring to fold in programs over the course of several months. ‘We take our time, we research, we make sure we’re putting a show out there that’s the right thing,’ says Cohn. ‘We add and cycle in things as we feel they are appropriate to kids’ lifestyles and what they’re looking for in TV viewing.’ As a result, she says, ‘we don’t have as many cancellations.’

Mon. to Fri. afternoons

3:00 p.m. Hey Arnold! (winner)

3:30 p.m. Pinky & the Brain** (winner)

4:00 p.m. Rugrats

(winner on Fridays)

4:30 p.m. Nicktoons TV

**Replaced by CatDog after survey

The Sked

Saturday mornings

7:00 a.m. Doug

7:30 a.m. Doug (winner)

8:00 a.m. Rocket Power

8:30 a.m. Rocket Power

9:00 a.m. Rugrats (winner)

9:30 a.m. Rugrats (winner)

10:00 a.m. SpongeBob Squarepants


10:30 a.m. SpongeBob Squarepants


11:00 a.m. CatDog

11:30 a.m. CatDog

12:00 p.m. Angry Beavers (winner)

12:30 p.m. Angry Beavers (winner)

Fall debuts

The Brothers Garcia

(Si TV, six x 30 min., debuted July 23 at 8:30 p.m.)

A live-action sitcom for kids about the coming-of-age stories of three Latino brothers.

Noah Knows Best

(Tested Ladder Entertainment/Nickelodeon Studios Florida, 13 x 30 min., debuts Oct. 7 at 8:30 p.m.)

Charming 14-year-old Noah battles with his older sister in Manhattan’s Upper West Side.


(Nickelodeon Studios Florida, 13 x 30 min., postponed to Jan. 2001)

A live-action series mixing music, Latin culture and teen aspirations.


(Nelvana, 13 x 30 min., debuts October 24 at 8 p.m.)

An animated series for kids starring a fearless 13-year-old quadriplegic with a wicked sense of humor.

As Told by Ginger

(Nickelodeon/Klasky Csupo, 13 x 30 min., premieres October 25 at 8 p.m.)

Insecure preteen Ginger Floutley tries to make it in junior high.


Thanks to the CBS/Viacom merger, as of September 16, the CBS Saturday morning lineup will consist of a branded Nick Jr. block programmed by Nickelodeon. Our panel gave the individual shows a big thumbs-up, with many coming in first or second for their time slots, but as the overall grade shows, programmers were universally perplexed by the decision to break up a preschool sked with a two-hour news show aimed at the 40-plus set.

Janice Burgess, VP of Nick Jr., would only say that ‘kids know what shows are for them and they know great shows when they see them-so I think they’ll come looking for them,’ perhaps indicating that her hands are tied. One panelist noted that CBS will be going head-to-head with PBS’s new preschool sked (see page 92), saying that Nick Jr. ‘has the branding to beat PBS at its own game.’

Asked if CBS is risking tot burn-out by airing shows available on Nickelodeon five days a week, Burgess touted the extra exposure as a positive. ‘I think we’re talking about extending our reach to children who don’t have cable,’ she says. ‘The other thing to bear in mind, of course, is that children live increasingly busy lives, just as adults do. Lots of kids are in preschool or kindergarten during the day, so I think Saturday morning is an opportunity to get kids who might not normally be able to watch us.’

The Sked

Saturday mornings

7:00 a.m. Blue’s Clues (winner)

7:30 a.m. Dora the Explorer*

8:00 a.m. Little Bear (winner-tie)

8:30 a.m. Little Bill

9:00 a.m. (CBS News)

9:30 a.m. (CBS News)

10:00 a.m. (CBS News)

10:30 a.m. (CBS News)

11:00 a.m. Franklin (winner)

11:30 a.m. Kipper

* fall debut

Kids’ WB!: C+

Considering the sheer number of untested new shows in key kid time slots, Kids’ WB! made a fine showing, landing in a four-way tie for the second-highest overall rating awarded by our panel. Kids’ WB! also had the second-strongest showing on weekday afternoons, but didn’t fare as well on Saturday mornings. Like the broadcaster’s ratings, votes for time slot winners shot up whenever Pokémon was on.

One panelist noted that while the sked may not get the highest rating from adults, the sked should get the ‘unsupervised kid vote’ thanks to a popular mix of action and adventure. The main criticism of the sked was that it skewed too boy-heavy, but senior VP of Kids’ WB! Donna Friedman is unapologetic.

‘We absolutely still position ourselves as a boy-first network,’ she says. ‘But we want to begin inviting more girls to the party.’ One way Kids’ WB! is doing that is by incorporating strong female heroines in programs such as Generation O! and Cardcaptors. ‘We believe very strongly that strong female characters will equally appeal to both boys and girls,’ says Friedman.

However, Kids’ WB!’s biggest challenge may be trying to launch several new shows while keeping the schedule stable. ‘There’s not really that much change,’ says Friedman. ‘We’re using the strength of our returning hits-Pokémon, Batman Beyond, Men in Black, Cardcaptors, Max Steel-to launch new shows. We just had too much good stuff, and that’s why we had to break out into `Fraturdays.”

Friedman has particularly high hopes for Pokémon: The Johto Journeys, which picks up where the original series left off and introduces over 100 new Pokémon characters, many of which will appear in the new Silver and Gold Pokémon Nintendo Game Boy titles coming out in October.

The Sked

Mon. to Thurs. afternoons

3:00 p.m. The Sylvester & Tweety


3:30 p.m. Men in Black: The Series

4:00 p.m. Pokémon (winner)

4:30 p.m. Max Steel (Mon.)

Batman Beyond (Tues. – Thurs.)

Friday afternoons (‘Fraturday’ block)

3:00 p.m. Detention

3:30 p.m. Cardcaptors

4:00 p.m. Pokémon: The Johto Journeys*

4:30 p.m. Generation O!*

* fall debut

Saturday mornings

8:00 a.m. Men in Black: The Series

8:30 a.m. Pokémon (winner)

9:00 a.m. Jackie Chan Adventures*

9:30 a.m. Cardcaptors

10:00 a.m. Pokémon: The Johto

Journeys* (winner – tie)

10:30 a.m. Static Shock*

11:00 a.m. Batman Beyond

11:30 a.m. Max Steel

* fall debut

Fall debuts

Jackie Chan Adventures

(Sony Pictures Family Entertainment Group, 13 x 30 min., debuts Sept. 9 at 9 a.m.)

Animated action-adventure series casts underdog hero Jackie Chan as an ancient artifact expert and special agent. Chan will appear in live-action segments throughout each ep.

Static Shock

(Warner Bros. Animation, 13 x 30 min., debuts Sept. 23 at 10:30 a.m.)

Touted as the first animated series to star a teenage African American super hero, Static Shock borrows from the DC Comics series to create a humorous show addressing issues faced by kids in urban America.

X-Men: Evolution

(Marvel Studios/Film Roman, 13 x 30 min., debuts mid-fall, time TBA)

X-Men fever lives on in this animated teenage version of the classic Marvel comic.

Pokémon: The Johto Journeys

(Nintendo/Shopro, 52 x 30 minutes, debuts Oct. 14 at 10 a.m.)

First called Pokémon GS, then Pokémon: The Joto Journeys, this sequel to the popular Pokémon series has gained a longer title, but hopes to rekindle Pokémania with the same winning formula.

The Zeta Project

(Warner Bros. Animation, 13 x 30 min., debuts mid-fall, time TBA)

Ostensibly spun off from Batman Beyond, this series tells the story of a robot weapon with a conscience on the run from a nasty secret government agency.

Generation O!

(Sony Wonder/RTV, 13 x 30 min., debuts in regular slot Sept. 15 at 4:30 p.m.)

She has a purple limo and millions of adoring fans, but eight-year-old Molly O! manages to stay grounded thanks to adoring parents and an annoying brother. The animated series features songs by Boston-based band Letters to Cleo.

Fox Kids: C+

Sometimes viewed as the UPN of the kid set, Fox Kids has ridden the wave of its boy viewership to great success over the years. Few shows were in the running for time slot faves as chosen by our panel of programmers, but the overall rating tie with Cartoon, Kids’ WB! and ABC reflects a sense that Fox Kids is a leader when it comes to boys ages six to 12. Programmers also noted how quickly Fox glommed onto the anime rage, cooking up Digimon on the run and adding new Japanese imports Escaflowne and CyberSix for the fall. As with Kids’ WB!, most programmers felt that Fox should try to reach more girls, and Maureen Smith, GM for Fox Kids and executive VP for Fox Family Channel, seems to agree.

‘We don’t like to say we really target boys or girls, we say we target kids who love action, adventure and prankster comedy,’ she says. ‘Fox Kids girls are a specific kind of girl. They are an active group of girls. The pool isn’t very huge and we’d like to get a few more of them to tune in, but we cannot make the mistake of doing so by disenfranchising our boy audience.’

One way of accomplishing that programming juggling act, Smith believes, is to add more elements of prankster comedy to the lineup. ‘We’ve always felt that’s a part of who we are, but up until now we haven’t had much on our air,’ she says. Originally, Smith was hoping to borrow Angela Anaconda from sister net Fox Family, but those plans were scratched in late August with no reason given.

Still, Smith believes that re-airing the classic X-Men series (produced by Marvel in association with Saban), which first debuted in January 1993, will help attract active girls along with its core boy audience.

‘Back then it was huge for us with both boys and girls,’ recalls Smith. ‘If we can keep the heat and fire under this show, we’ll expose a whole new audience to it.’

Fall debuts


(Bandai Visual, 26 x 30 min., debuted August 19)

This Japanese anime import sees high school student Hitomi transported to the mystical world of Gaea where she attempts to master the Escaflowne battle suit and protect her new home from evil.


(TMS Entertainment/NOA, 13 x 30 min., debuted August 19)

Not to be confused with last year’s fall debut Xyber 9 from Saban, CyberSix incorporates the Japanese penchant for cross-dressing superheroes in the story of a rebellious female ‘cyber’ who battles her evil creator by night and disguises herself as a male literature teacher by day.

The Sked

Mon. to Thurs. afternoons

3:00 p.m. The Magic School Bus (Mon.)

Dungeons & Dragons (Tue.-Thur.)

3:30 p.m. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue

4:00 p.m. X-Men (classic series)

4:30 p.m. Digimon: Digital Monsters

Friday afternoons

3:00 p.m. Flint the Time Detective

3:30 p.m. Dinozaurs

4:00 p.m. Escaflowne*

4:30 p.m. Digimon: Digital Monsters

Saturday mornings

8:00 a.m. Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue

8:30 a.m. CyberSix*

9:00 a.m. Digimon: Digital Monsters

9:30 a.m. Action Man

10:00 a.m. Beast Machines

10:30 a.m. Digimon: Digital Monsters

11:00 a.m. Escaflowne*

11:30 a.m. Dinozaurs

* fall debut

Fox Family: C

Fox Family is still a network in transition, so its current sked features an eclectic mix of live action for tween girls (S Club 7, etc.), preschool (Hello Kitty), and animation for boys (Rotten Ralph). Panelists found that many of the shows were fun and liked the idea of aiming for a slightly older demo, but flow came up often as a serious problem.

Right now, Maureen Smith, GM for Fox Kids and executive VP for Fox Family, says she is focusing on the long term and is happy that Fox’s goal of creating a place for tweens is finally starting to come into clearer focus. ‘Ever since the channel was purchased, our vision was to create a destination for the nine- to 14-year-olds who have pretty much outgrown Nickelodeon but aren’t quite ready for MTV,’ she says.

Smith believes shows like Great Pretenders and S Club 7 are helping them cement that niche. Although many of the shows they’ve aired so far are musical in nature, Smith says, ‘you can’t build a business solely on music,’ so in October, the channel will be debuting Scary But True, which she says, ‘has really popped in focus groups.’

Fall debuts

Lycra Presents the Hi-Fi Room

(13 x 30 min., Bob Bain Productions, debuted July 8)

Probably the first tween series ever to be sponsored by a stretchy fabric, The Hi-Fi Room features shiny teen hosts, in-studio performances and exclusive interviews with such stars as Christina Aguilera, Third Eye Blind and LFO.

MXG Beach Countdown

(26 x 30 min., MXG Television Productions, debuted July 8)

A new spin on the traditional music countdown show, MXG takes kids to the beach and goes on-line with a weekly interactive video party.

Scary But True (formerly Real Scary Stories)

(13 x 30 min., Highland Productions,

debuts Oct. 21 at 1 p.m.)

Shot in a gritty documentary style, this live-action scarefest raises goosebumps with tales of paranormal encounters told by real kids and teens.

The Zack Files

(26 x 30 min., Lancit Media/Decode Entertainment, debuts Oct. 21 at 1:30 p.m.)

Zack lives in a world that’s half reassuringly normal and half really weird. His files include such incidents as cloning himself by photocopying his head and becoming psychic after walking through a metal detector.

Da Mob

(26 x 30 min., Happy Life Entertainment, debut postponed to 2001)

Featuring ‘delusional punks with an impossible dream,’ animated series Da Mob rocks the house with three teens who’ll do anything to make it in the music biz.

The Sked

Mon. to Fri. afternoons

3:00 p.m. The Kids From Room 402


S Club 7 in LA (Fri.)

3:30 p.m. Angela Anaconda (Mon.-Thurs.)

S Club 7 in LA (Fri.)

4:00 p.m. Goosebumps

4:30 p.m. Big Wolf on Campus

Saturday mornings

7:00 a.m. Hello Kitty’s Paradise

7:30 a.m. Rotten Ralph

8:00 a.m. Mary Kate and Ashley’s


8:30 a.m. Mary Kate and Ashley’s


9:00 a.m. The Kids From Room 402

9:30 a.m. Two of a Kind

10:00 a.m. Great Pretenders

10:30 a.m. MXG Beach Countdown*

11:00 a.m. S Club 7 in LA

11:30 a.m. Big Wolf on Campus

12:00 p.m. Lycra Presents The Hi-Fi Room*

12:30 p.m. Edgemont

* fall debut

ABC/Disney: C+

In contrast to Nick, our panelists praised ABC Saturday mornings more for the overall scheduling and branding than for having individual knock-outs in the line-up. Not surprisingly, the One Saturday Morning block was identified as the sked’s linchpin, but some questioned the programming that followed, with one panelist saying that airing Sabrina and Winnie the Pooh back-to-back didn’t make much sense. ABC was also credited with having the most accessible programming and most even girl/boy split.

This would come as no surprise to Jonathan Barzilay, senior VP and GM of children’s programming, who believes ABC’s strength lies in mass appeal. ‘While there are some networks that have focused heavily on boys with an action lineup, we’ve always tried to strike a balance in our viewership,’ he says. ‘That’s a tremendous attraction for our advertisers and it allows us to program in an extremely inclusive way.’

In order to attract that demo, ABC’s new shows-Buzz Lightyear of Star Command and Teacher’s Pet-rely more on character than action. In addition to believing Buzz’ tremendous film appeal will translate onto the small screen, Barzilay also says Teacher’s Pet, about a dog who dresses up as a boy so he can go to school, will appeal to all children.

Fall debuts

Disney’s Teacher’s Pet

(Walt Disney Television Animation, 13 x 22 min., debuts Sept. 9)

A talking dog who yearns to learn dresses up as a boy, goes to school, and becomes the teacher’s pet.

Disney/Pixar’s Buzz Lightyear of

Star Command

(Walt Disney Television Animation/Pixar, 65 x 30 min., debuts Oct. 14)

He was a favorite in Toy Story and Toy Story II, and now he has his own show. Appearing this time in traditional 2-D cel animation, Buzz continues to battle evil-doers ‘to infinity… and beyond.’

Saturday mornings

8:00 a.m. Disney’s Doug

8:30 a.m. Disney’s One Saturday Morning

(8:30 a.m. – 10:30 a.m.)

Includes: The Weekenders,

Recess and Teacher’s Pet*

10:30 a.m. Buzz Lightyear of Star

Command* (winner – tie)

11:00 a.m. Pepper Ann

11:30 a.m. Sabrina, the Animated Series

12:00 p.m. The New Adventures of

Winnie the Pooh

12:30 p.m. Mickey MouseWorks

* fall debut


Along with established properties Clifford and Caillou, PBS is pinning its new season on an ambitious new Playskool-sponsored Saturday morning block. Tagged the PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch, the three-hour block features six book-based series from Nelvana.

The element of the unknown clearly influenced our panel of programmers, with about equal numbers either really liking or hating the Bookworm Bunch concept. Some praised the branding, while others were skeptical about handing the whole block to one production company.

The decision to launch a Saturday franchise has been in the works a couple of years, according to PBS senior VP John Wilson. ‘It became clear that kids programming, which has always been a priority, was a place where we need to remain strong and really capitalize on our strengths.’

However, instead of locking itself into Nielsen’s two-to-five and six-to-11 demos, PBS geared the Bookworm Bunch to kids ages three to six. ‘It’s pro-social, not necessarily a strict cognitive curriculum,’ Wilson explains. ‘It’s intended to give children good modeling in terms of behavior, problem-solving and functioning as part of a group, which is a big transition for a little kid to make as they enter the school world.’

Fall debuts


(Cinar, 40 x 30 min., debuts Sept. 4 at 8:30 a.m.)

Clifford the Big Red Dog

(Scholastic Productions, 40 x 30 min., debuts Sept. 4 at 7:30 a.m.)

PBS Kids Bookworm Bunch

(all produced by Nelvana, all 13 x 30 min., all debut Sept. 30)

* Corduroy

* Elliot Moose

* Timothy Goes

to School

* Seven Little


* George Shrinks

* Marvin the

Tap Dancing Horse

The Sked

Mon. to Fri. afternoons

3:00 p.m. Wishbone

3:30 p.m. Zoom

4:00 p.m. Zoboomafoo

4:30 p.m. Arthur (winner)

Saturday mornings

8:00 a.m. PBS Kids’ Bookworm Bunch

(8:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.)

Includes: Corduroy*,

Elliot Moose*,

Timothy Goes to School*,

Seven Little Monsters*,

George Shrinks* and

Marvin the

Tap Dancing Horse*

* fall debut

sked is for the main PBS feed, affiliate programming may vary

Cartoon Network: C+

Our panelists praised Cartoon for its original programming, especially The Powerpuff Girls, but noted that once you get beyond that, much of the sked is padded with older fare such as Thundercats. To be fair, Cartoon execs have said that they don’t view the traditional Saturday morning and weekday afternoon slots as key for their audience. Thus, trademark blocks such as Cartoon Cartoon Fridays and Toonami fell partially or completely outside of the slots voted on.

Still, the network is debuting only one new series this fall. Asked about the drop in production, VP of programming Dea Connick Perez says it’s not for a lack of development, but a function of an already strong schedule, due in part to the continued juggernaut of The Powerpuff Girls.

‘I know people are clamoring for more,’ says Connick Perez about the anime-inspired series, but there are no current plans to expand beyond current time slots because ‘we only have a certain amount of episodes and we don’t want to burn them out.’ However, she adds that more eps are in production, as well as the planned 2002 Powerpuff Girls feature.

Connick Perez says that in the meantime, the network will concentrate on interactive projects, which she sees as key to reaching young viewers. ‘We’re just trying to keep up,’ she says. ‘Kids expect interactivity because everything else in their world is interactive, so our website is an integral part of the network.’

Fall debut

Sheep in the Big City

(Curious Pictures, 13 x 30 min., debuts Nov. 17 at 9:30 p.m.)

This animated series takes a cue from Rocky and Bullwinkle with cliffhanger eps strung together by a sardonic narrator, satirical skits and TV spoofs.

The Sked

Mon. to Fri. afternoons

3:00 p.m. Tom & Jerry (Mon.)

Captain Planet (Tues. – Fri.)

3:30 p.m. Tom & Jerry (Mon.)

Thundercats (Tues. – Fri.)

4:00 p.m. Reboot

4:30 p.m. Sailor Moon

Saturday mornings

7:00 a.m. Pebbles & Bamm Bamm

7:30 a.m. Help, It’s the Hair Bears

8:00 a.m. Dexter’s Laboratory

(winner – tie)

8:30 a.m. Ed, Edd n Eddy

9:00 a.m. Thundercats

9:30 a.m. Thundercats

10:00 a.m. Sailor Moon

10:30 a.m. Tenchi Muyo

11:00 a.m. Dragon Ball Z

11:30 a.m. Powerpuff Girls (winner)

12:00 p.m. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

12:30 p.m. Scooby-Doo, Where Are You?

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