Can Toonami Survive The Digital Era?

A couple of days ago I posted a question to our readers on our Facebook page. The question was "With Netflix, Crunchyroll and other ways to watch anime. How many of you actually stay up and watch Toonami?" I was surprise to see some people still stay up to watch or DVR the classic program. However with a time slot late at night 12 AM to 5 AM and only showing once a week, not to mention it's pack with a program card with shows that many otakus have seen over and over, can Toonami stay in the league with the digital age of streaming and Blu-Ray and DVD's.

The Challenges Of The New Toonami: As much as I love Toonami and I' am rooting for the new revival success. I have to be a realist and point out the huge challenges it faces now. When Toonami debut in 1997 there was nothing like it. It was rare to find anime on your T.V. during the daytime or even at all unless you had the VHS or DVD. There wasn't really Dragonball Z, Yu Yu Hakusho, Robotech showing on other channels. Toonami was bringing anime to a whole new audience that didn't know anything about it. Anime wasn't just underground anymore. Heck! Some of the otakus will tell you what got them into anime was Toonami. It was truly something different and change the way animation was looked at for those who never seen anime. The old Toonami had something the new Toonami doesn't have, it had an afternoon block. When I would come home from Junior High School I would change it to Toonami and watch the weekday anime block that they had. Eventually Toonami expanded to afternoon and late night, and soon just late night but it was still five days a week. Scheduling and Streaming is the first challenge the new Toonami faces.

1. Scheduling & Streaming: Right now Toonami only airs once a week and that is on Saturday 12 AM to 5 AM. If this was 1997 where streaming really didn't have a thought this would have work. It would have work because you will be anticipating every week for your next episode. There wasn't no other ways to see the show unless the studio's released them on VHS or DVD's, but even those were pricey especially if your just a kid. Your only option would have been Toonami. However in this day and age you can get the same content somewhere else and you won't have to wait a week. The anime"Soul Eater" has been on Netflix for as long as I can remember, if I wanted to watch the entire series I would just turn on my Netflix and do a marathon of it. I won't have to stay up late night on a Saturday for one episode, especially now that I can watch it all in one sitting if I chose too. Legal streaming is making it easier for otakus to get access to anime without television. It's becoming more convenient, you don't have to wait depending on what services you use. It's mainly on you when and how you're going to watch it. Large companies are starting to see that streaming is soon going to be the way we get our entertainment. A good example of this is CBS. If I miss my favorite show "How I Met Your Mother" on Monday, it doesn't bother me anymore I can just go to and catch the streaming of the episode that aired. Yes it will be up for the limited of time, but I can still catch it. The key to Toonami surviving will be for Cartoon Network to find a way to capitalize on the streaming and learn how to utilize that market as well. Streaming is the future and it's time for companies to figure it out how to use it.

2. Exclusives & Premieres: In order to have Toonami roaring back into it's glory days again, it's going to need some new anime and some exclusives premieres. The lineup right now is showing the basic anime m.o. like Bleach, Naruto, Inyuasha. The addition of Soul Eater is a welcomed addition, however one thing our readers want is some exclusives. Give them shows that they can't find on Netflix, Crunchyroll or anywhere else. Give them a reason to stay up once a week and tune in. If Cartoon Network is serious about trying bring Toonami back in full force then it's going to need some exclusives that we can't get anywhere else.

How Can Toonami Survive The Digital Era: If Toonami is going to survive it will need ratings, but it's up to the network to actually get some things done. Toonami will need exclusives or a batch of new shows, new anime movies. It's going to need to go back to it's five day after school slot and late nights for shows that are a little more uncut. Most importantly it needs marketing not just from the people who grew up with the show and the voice actors on the actual shows. The network needs to start marketing Toonami like it did in the past. Toonami needs commercials, web ads, give the program a push that it needs and you will have Toonami back. 

Final Thoughts: I love Toonami, I grew up with Toonami and I want this program to succeed. However in order for it to survive it's going to be on the network to actually give the program a push, trust in it's core audience will tune in. In addition it will have to find a way to enter the streaming market and capitalize on that is well. Will Toonami survive the Digital Era? Only time will tell. You can teach an old dog new tricks.