Green Lantern and Young Justice Have Been Defeated by Cartoon Network

The first few weeks of 2013 have been depressing ones for fans of sci-fi and superhero cartoons. First, Disney XD aired its final first season episodes of Tron: Uprising during January with no intention of renewing the series for a second season. Then, Cartoon Network announced the cancellation of its current "DC Nation" series Green Lantern and Young Justice. According to news sources, Cartoon Network will replace these two shows in April with a new Batman series, Beware the Batman, and Teen Titans Go!, a revamped relaunch of the previous Teen Titans cartoon series that first aired in 2003.

I have a personal theory about what is happening here, at both Cartoon Network and Disney XD. While I don't have access to the ratings information of any of these shows, I do know that each of them have proven to be successful among certain age demographics; unfortunately, for the network executives, they are the 'wrong' demographics. Older fans of sci-fi and superheroes, such as teenagers and adults, have shown their support of cartoons such as Green Lantern, Young Justice and Tron: Uprising by watching episodes on TV or downloading episodes through online services, but this kind of support is not enough for their respective networks. What the networks want instead are demographics that watch the shows AND buy as much of the licensed merchandise as possible, merchandise such as toys, clothing, linens, and so on (i.e., they want viewers who loyally watch Young Justice and loyally buy Young Justice action figures, Young Justice toothbrushes, Young Justice bed sheets, Young Justice wallpaper, etc.). Adults and teenagers don't fit these merchandising goals, but children do. I suspect that this rationale was also behind the cancellation of Genndy Tartakovsky's Sym-Bionic Titan series back in 2011.

If my theory is correct, then it's bad news for fans of American animation entertainment that's aimed at older audiences. It means that the business model for syndicated TV cartoons in the 80s still applies to cable TV cartoons of today--that the only cartoons that will receive long-term support from American entertainment companies are those that are 30-minute commercials for kids. I suppose that's why Disney XD cancelled the animated Tron: Uprising series but Disney itself is still moving forward with the live-action Tron 3 movie: Disney feels that when it comes to the Tron franchise--in terms of economics and demographic appeal--it will get a greater return on investment from a live-action movie than it will from a cartoon series. That's a disappointing way for a quality TV cartoon series like Green Lantern, Young Justice and Tron: Uprising to end, but that seems to be the way the cartoon business works these days.


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