Tuesday, 8 December 2015

Series 19 and Viacom

(Yes, I said "Viacom", not Channel 5. I'll get to that)

In a previous blog post, I said that fans often get uppity over things that aren't worth complaining about, especially when they're the ones taking advantage of SI3D enough without one person releasing reskinned models. However, that's not to say that fans shouldn't complain about anything, because there are a few things, especially for UK fans, to find fault with. Case in point, Viacom meddling with Channel 5 and milkshake!, their dedicated block for children's TV.

It's safe to say that, while the 70th anniversary of the show has been pretty big in the US, which has filtered over to the online Thomas fans, the UK has had a real struggle gaining any celebratory atmosphere. Sure there was The Adventure Begins, but that came out 4 months after it did across the pond. Sure, there was a huge campaign for Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure, but the DVD was still released last over here. Sure, Hornby revived their range for 2015... but the models are only just being released.

The point is, every time there's been something to celebrate in the UK, there's always been a "but" immediately after. And if you want a prime example of this ridiculousness, look no further than series 19.

So far, 20 episodes have been revealed to the public. 12 have been released on US DVDs already, 6 have aired in Japan, while Australia is beginning their circulation very soon (next week, at the time of writing, if I'm not mistaken). And the UK? Four. And The Afternoon Tea Express (a series 17 episode) which had aired for the first time at the end of "Thomas Week" because... why not.

Now, I know you're probably thinking "But how can they air episodes they don't have yet?" To that, I answer you with this tweet by SIF:
So, in basic terms, Channel 5 have been intentionally holding these episodes back for no apparent reason.

"But if they have the episodes, surely they'll air some at Christmas, right?" Well... no. Despite initially saying they'd do so in an email received by SteamTeam:
...their actual Christmas schedule is this:
So they've either changed their minds over the past few months, the adviser was fed false information so that those who actually give a damn about what they air have a tiny sense of hope or they were intentionally lying about things to try and get people off their back. Considering 5 is owned by Viacom these days, neither option is off the table.

After all, this is the company that owns Nickelodeon, a channel that's been (potentially) forced to keep SpongeBob SquarePants and The Fairly OddParents going way past their prime solely because they're too scared to create something new and interesting, even though the TMNT reboot they have and Harvey Beaks are some of the best shows to come out of Nick in the past few years.

This is the company who thinks that healthy competition between new Thomas episodes and new Bob the Builder episodes... isn't healthy and could damage either brand. Now, I could understand this dilemma if it was similar to Strictly Come Dancing vs The X Factor but... it's not. Both Bob and Thomas are owned by channel 5. Heck, Bob airs at 7:20am (slightly earlier during Christmas) and Thomas airs straight after!

Would Bob have fared better had new Thomas episodes been aired at the same time? Maybe, maybe not. The sad fact is that we'll never know now, because those behind the scenes didn't have the balls to even try and pair new Bob with new Thomas.

Now in fairness to Viacom, that excuse kind of holds up the first time around. It's a new incarnation of a show and they want to ensure that it gets as much exposure as possible. However, there were more new episodes that aired for four weeks which wrapped up last week (at the time of writing). By this point, the audience for Bob was there, so there's absolutely no excuse to, at the very least, try airing new episodes from both shows. It's not particularly a "ratings war", it's friendly competition.

In conclusion, this is all Viacom's doing. Why? Well, although Channel 5's scheduling (when it wasn't owned by them) was weird at the worst of times (anyone remember them holding only The Christmas Tree Express back in series 16? Or series 17's random scheduling?), they did, at least, get every episode out by the time the year ended. Heck, they aired series 13 and 14 in 2010!

With Viacom in charge though, it's been an absolute mess. Even though Sodor's Legend of the Lost Treasure is airing on New Year's Day as per normal, which is something I guess, they're counting Dinos and Discoveries as part of series 19 - which it isn't - while only airing four episodes of the actual series 19, leaving the others to gather dust. There is absolutely no need for it whatsoever, and it's just another fine example of the UK getting the short end of the stick just because "big business" would rather mess with its audience than give them what they want and deserve.

1 comment:

  1. You are absolutely correct about what everything that is said here. Is it worth mentioning that Viacom has closed Channel 5's advertising regions for financial problems? It proves that all they care about is money and what they've done to UK fans this time around is cheap. Bummer too. I live in the US but I enjoy watching but US and UK versions and comparing them. But even for the 70th anniversary, Viacom's taken a large step too far. If they don't enjoy friendly competition between two popular brands, then what the hell gives them to desire to buy one of the most successful television channels in the UK? Profit, I'm guessing, and the entire company lied by their supposed wish to gain a more successful audience. If it were for me, I'd look for the most possible way for to get rid of Viacom by possibly suing them. This way, season 20 won't suffer the same way this season did and Channel 5 would have a new owner that actually enjoys friendly competition and actually gives a damn about it's audience.