Citing low local ad dollars, Kids’ WB! has decided to cancel its Monday to Friday two-hour programming block at the end of 2005. The branded slot has been a feature on airwaves between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. for the last ten years, spotlighting shows such as Pokémon, The Batman and Xiaolin Showdown. As of January 2006, just over 200 American affiliates will replace the block with adult-skewing off-network and local programming.
Meanwhile, the Saturday morning Kids’ WB! slot escaped the chopping block, and will expand from its current four-hour slate to five hours, running between 7 a.m. and 12 p.m. ‘The additional hour gives us an opportunity in the future for some more original programming, but we also have several things in the hopper that might go in that hour,’ says Betsy McGowen, senior VP and general manager of Kids’ WB!.
The biggest challenges the weekday block faced were an overarching shift in advertising dollar expenditure, mixed with competition from 24-hour cable networks such as Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network. As national kid brands continued to swallow up smaller local companies, affiliates found it increasingly difficult to lure dollars from local shops. Meanwhile, larger companies would much rather hit a nationwide audience on the cablenets than buy time on a local station with smaller reach.
Saturday mornings however, still garner strong enough ratings for the terrestrial block that national advertisers remain keen to buy time. The Kids WB! Saturday morning block is currently the top terrestrial performer, ranking number one over broadcast competition from both 4Kids and DIC.
Kids WB! will continue to control most of the ad time for Saturday, in conjunction with the sales team from its sisternet Cartoon Network. ‘But there will be ample opportunities for local advertisers as well,’ McGowen says. ‘It’s the primetime of the kids broadcast world.’