What if Fox Family didn't fail?

Discussion in 'The toonzone - General Animation Discussion' started by TheMisterManGuy, Dec 9, 2017.

  1. TheMisterManGuy

    TheMisterManGuy Active Member

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    Before FreeForm, there was Fox Family Channel. A cable network owned by Fox via Fox Family Worldwide, serving as the cable counterpart to Fox Kids Network, as well as the closest thing Fox had to a Nickelodeon, Disney Channel or Cartoon Network competitor. A lack of hit programming, and internal conflicts between Fox and Hiam Saban led to them selling the whole division in 2001 to Disney. Disney took control of Fox Family, re-tooling it as ABC Family, Fox sold what was left of their children's lineup to 4Kids, and the whole deal took Fox out of the kids entertainment business permanently. With the advent of 21st Century Fox looking to sell off all their entertainment units to Disney, I thought it might be fun to imagine how things might've played out differently. Specifically, what if Fox Family never failed? What if it could do to Kids networks, what the Fox Network did for broadcast networks, as in, establish itself as a viable "fourth" network in the market? Here's how I think Fox Family could've succeeded, and what things would be like today if that was the case.

    * Get Saban out of the Picture - Part of Fox Family's failure can be traced all the way back to 1996, when Fox Kids merged with Saban Entertainment. The resulting deal formed Fox Kids Worldwide, the new parent company for Fox Kids Network, Saban Entertainment, and later, Fox Family Channel, with Hiam Saban owning 50% of the whole unit. Internal conflicts with Fox and Saban led to the downfall of the company however. So if Fox Family was to succeed, there needs to be no outside forces. Fox should've bought the channel on their own, and avoid the whole Fox Kids/Saban merger altogether. A short-term partnership with Saban however, would be fine. Avoiding the merger would not only have helped Fox Family, but it also would've helped Fox Kids in the long run.

    * Have in-house cartoons from Twentieth Century Fox Television - I think the reason Fox Kids and Fox Family died was because TCF Television didn't produce anything for them, it was really Saban and other companies doing the work. Nickelodeon, Disney Channel, and Cartoon Network all have in-house studios that produce the bulk of their original series. So Fox Kids and Fox Family needed the same. Fox needed to make sure they had an in-house animation unit at TCF Television that their networks can feed off of. Actually, as a matter of fact, Fox does have an animation unit, they work on The Simpsons, Family Guy, Futurama, etc. get them to do some kids shows as well.

    * Make sure an original animated series is a smash hit - The closest thing Fox Family had to a poster child in it's short life was the Canadian series, Angela Anaconda. That's not going to cut it. Going along with #2, Make sure one of those in-house animated series is big hit. Along the lines of Rugrats, SpongeBob, Powerpuff Girls, Recess, or at the very least, Kim Possible. Something that kids and adults could enjoy, and was strong enough that it could carry the channel pretty much on its own if needed. A lack of hit programming is what led to Fox Family and eventually Fox Kids' downfall.

    Now that we laid out how to make Fox Family a success, let's see how this alternate reality could play out.

    * Fox Family starts off slow, but is able to establish itself as a viable alternative to the big three thanks to it's family focus.

    * Fox Family gets its first breakout cartoon hit in 2002/2003, and becomes the network's longest running show.

    * Fox Kids and Fox Family continue to regularly share programming and staff, with Fox Kids using the latter as a second-run outlet for their shows.

    * Ratings start to stagnate around 2005, possibly due to Fox splitting their resources between two kids networks.

    * In 2006, Fox announces that Fox Kids and Fox Family will merge to form a new kids channel. Fox Kids ceases Weekday operations December of that year.

    * This new channel replaces Fox Family in 2007, with Fox selling the remaining Fox Kids Saturday block to an outside producer, so that they can focus on just one kids platform.

    * Around the same time, a new commercial-free digital cable channel, ala Boomerang. Is created purely to archive all Fox animation.

    * Fox's kids channel continues to be active to this day, adapting to the rise of streaming like it's competitors are doing as well.

    That's how I think Fox could've salvaged its kids business. Shame too, had the whole falling out with Saban not have happened, I felt Fox could've held their own against Viacom, Turner and Disney.
     
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  2. JTOONSAnimation

    JTOONSAnimation Active Member

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    I guess if it were still on, it would be something like the FXX channel.
     
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  3. Mandouga

    Mandouga Well-Known Member

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    I wouldn't say it "failed" exactly. It's just that Fox and Saban were arguing over who was is charge, and according to TV Tropes, they didn't have a "clear direction" they wanted to go in.
     
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  4. Gear3dGryph0n

    Gear3dGryph0n Active Member

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    The only problem with this whole scenario is that Fox can't control whether one of their shows becomes a big hit or not. It would be a massive undertaking for a studio smaller than the ones at the Big Three to put out enough shows to try for one of these hits. The better route would have been for Fox to try to partner with an independent producer, like Saban, possibly with an eye towards acquiring them in the future.

    Fox itself doesn't really own the rights to any franchises that would be guaranteed money for them (at least until Ice Age came along). They didn't have the history in the animation business that Disney had, nor had they merged and acquired their way into it like Cartoon Network did. The only show I can recall that Fox really put their name on was Peter Pan & the Pirates, which they co-produced with Southern Star Productions.

    I believe that Fox Family lived and died by its association with Saban. The Power Rangers franchise was probably the best thing they had, commercially speaking. The only way Fox Family could surely have been rescued would have been if the hardball between the two parties ended, if Fox had found another good partner, or if they were lucky and talented enough to have created the next SpongeBob and promote it well, too.
     
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    #4 Gear3dGryph0n, Dec 10, 2017
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2017
  5. Light Lucario

    Light Lucario Moderator
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    As interesting as the idea of Fox Family still being around is for me, I have a really hard time understanding the notion that they would have to make sure that they had a smash hit series. That's not really something any company can actively control. You can create the best series you possibly can and throw in aspects that you think would appeal to people and it can still not really gain an audience. Whether a show becomes a hit depends completely on how people respond to it more than anything else, so Fox Family wouldn't have any control over that.

    I also find the idea that Fox Family could have gone against Nickelodeon, Cartoon Network and the Disney Channel pretty unlikely. It wouldn't be impossible, but I think it would have taken a string of widely popular shows for that to happen, along with getting more original shows instead of relying on third party shows after awhile. Even if the channel was still around today, it would still be pretty young compared to the big three and possibly lack the initial name brand recognition that they have as well.

    If Fox Family had been able to get a couple of popular shows and been able to produce a couple of them, it's possible that the channel could have still been around. It might have been more like a secondary animation channel rather than another huge channel, but it could have had at least a decent amount of success if things had gone differently.
     
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  6. TheMisterManGuy

    TheMisterManGuy Active Member

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    Thing is, Fox was able create a successful fourth network before. FOX managed to be able to rival and even surpass the big 3 broadcast networks when it launched back in the 80s. If Fox was able to make a successful "Fourth network" in the broadcast adult space, they were more than capable of doing it again in the children's cable space. The problems with Fox Family had to due with Fox's conflicts with Haim Saban and a lack of successful programming, which led to poor ratings. Without Saban's interference, Fox Family would've had a better chance at finding an audience I think. Like I said, it could've done to kids cable networks, what the Fox Network did for broadcast networks.
     
  7. TheMisterFree

    TheMisterFree Member

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    Another big strike against the whole thing was that, aside from Pat Robertson's crap (which is still hanging around on Freeform to this day), they pretty much dumped all programming from the old Family Channel- at the time, Fam was primarily watched by older viewers for its' Western reruns, or else its' game shows (dating to the days of CBN they reran game shows- much like USA's old game block, it gave many shows another chance in syndication; by the mid 90s they had transitioned to producing low-budget but fun originals shows, mainly from B-list producers including StoneStanley, Kline and Friends, Woody Fraser, and even Jay Wolpert).

    The new FoxFam programming was designed to tailor to a younger demographic- essentially becoming a cut-rate Nickelodeon, although early on during the "twister" look it had been heavily influenced by YTV (especially in The Basement, their equivalent to The Zone). Essentially they ignored their built-in audience and tried to go after one that either didn't know or didn't care.

    I actually typed up a plan a while ago for how they should've gone about doing things- i even implemented it, with some changes, as part of an AlternateHistory.com thread. Here it is, for people's perusal.
     
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  8. TheMisterManGuy

    TheMisterManGuy Active Member

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    I actually preferred the initial YTV-esque atmosphere of the channel's launch. I wished they would've kept that instead of the dull, un-inspired look they replaced it with in 2000. But otherwise I agree. They should've kept some of the aspects from the Family Channel like the Westerns and Game Shows, instead of tossing everything out like they did. However, one thing in the plan you typed up about prepping to phase out the Fox Kids Weekday block. I'm not really sure that would be a good idea, at least, not at the time. Kids' WB! held on to its weekday block all the way up until the end of 2005, so Fox Kids could keep the Weekday block for a while longer as long as it had successful programming.
     
  9. TheMisterFree

    TheMisterFree Member

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    That weekday block was THE REASON why many of the affiliates that joined Fox after they got the NFL rights would not touch the FK block at all- they saw it as toxic, and carrying it interfered with their plans to add more local news and cheap talk shows and the like on weekdays (as opposed to network fare like soaps and costlier syndicated stuff), resulting in FK being on another station in many markets (quite frequently the former Fox station, in fact). Prepping the weekday block to be eliminated would be part of trying to get the affiliates onboard with FK at least on Saturday AMs.

    (You'd think that Fox could've just told them "You can preempt the weekday block if you want to, but you have to carry Saturdays' programming", but that apparently didn't occur to them.) This and the trouble they had with Fox Family were why all the FF Worldwide stuff was sold to Disney.

    There were only two exceptions from the dozens of stations. One was KTVI in St. Louis (they'd tried to move it to a religious station, but that didn't work out because A: the owner replaced commercial breaks with messages about stuff like abortion {obviously not stuff to show between Power Rangers and Beetleborgs}, B: they couldn't handle the flood of mail relating to the Fox Kids Club {one of the nation's biggest} and C: the station's signal REALLY sucked, even with cable), so KTVI had to pick it up anyway, though they dumped the weekday block for good in 2000. The other was KHON in Honolulu, oddly; they actually carried the entire block for as long as it was around (though the weekday block was tape delayed and aired from 10AM to 1PM), and even carried FoxBox/4KidsTV- I dunno why, maybe they liked it?
     
  10. TheMisterManGuy

    TheMisterManGuy Active Member

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    Yeah, that was a problem. Though I do remember Fox offering affiliates the option to run Fox Kids' weekday schedule from 2pm-4pm (which later became Fox Kids' official weekday schedule for the Fall 2001 season until it was axed). So there are ways Fox could've strong armed uncooperative affiliates into airing the Fox Kids Network weekday block, or at the very least, the Saturday block like you said.

    The reason I suggested to keep the Fox Kids weekday block for a while longer was because Kids' WB!, Fox Kids' main rival at the time enjoyed a lot of success with Pokemon, not just on Saturdays, but Weekdays as well, so Fox Kids would probably want to keep their Weekday operations alive in an effort to compete. Granted, Kids' WB had the benefit of being a younger network who's parent didn't have elusive Football airing rights.
     

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