I’m going to explain something about The Legend of Korra to you that you really need to understand:
What you have on your hands is like nothing you’ve ever aired before.
It looks a lot like Avatar: the Last Airbender, sure. There are some distinct similarities.
But, here’s the thing: Legend of Korra is not Avatar: the Last Airbender, and it has a hundred times more in common with that than any of your other programming.
What Legend of Korra is is pure serialized event programming.
It cannot be watched out of order.
It cannot leave off on any episode other than a finale.
And, more importantly, it has garnered tens of thousands of passionate fans, many of whom have paid thousands of dollars to make a pilgrimage to a single room in San Diego based on their love for the show.
If you change the schedule for SpongeBob without warning, fans might wonder when it will air, but it will have little impact on their actions in the future. If you change the schedule for Legend of Korra, you not only leave a trail of anguish in your wake, you risk losing the very ratings you’re trying to preserve.
What you need to do is this: be honest with your plans, and don’t change things on a moment’s notice. Treat the fans with a modicum of respect.
If you don’t want to air the show in August, that’s understandable. But you should have decided that months ago and let the fans know what to expect then, not the week before.
Here’s a hint for how to fix the mess you’re in if you absolutely can’t revert the schedule to what we expected:
Put every episode online, and leave them up for the entirety of August. Then, in September, re-launch the show with a marathon of everything aired so far. Give it as much exposure as you possibly can, not just on Nickelodeon, but on the other Viacom networks too. Maybe even do that thing you did for the last episodes of Avatar: the Last Airbender to build up to the Book Three finale — it was a weird move, but it seemed to work, and no one wants to wait until November for the last five episodes.
Why do this, you ask? Because the more time you waste letting people forget about this show, the worse your ratings are going to get. Anyone who watched a Book 3 episode out of context would probably stop watching out of confusion. But, if you make an event out of catching people up, you could give this show the ratings it deserves.
(If anyone knows where I could send this or has any suggestions about what to add, I’d be glad to hear it! )
Being serialized event tv, it is important that people can view it all, and view it consistently, and if they happen to miss episodes (or only start viewing a couple episodes into the season, because they were unaware it had begun again) are able to catch up via reruns, viewing it online on the website, or buy it via Itunes or the like. Nick is making neither particularly easy for people, almost actively so.
Additionally the nielsen ratings make it fairly easy to see which group of viewers is most affected by sudden changes and unexpected or inconsistent scheduling: the children.
The adultrating for book 1 remained pretty consistent, hovering around 1.0 (except for one bit of dropoff towards 0.7, during book 1’s episode with the lowest viewership, which was aired the week after a hiatus due to memorial day). There was a pretty steep dropoff in viewership between book 1 and book 2 (maybe due to the long hiatus, change of day, and some people no longer wanting to watch, let’s not deny it), but then the adult 18-49 rating has remained almost entirely the same from about episode 3 or 4 of book 2 onwards to the present; between 0.5 and 0.4, even when the airtime changed pretty much every other week. The main changes have been the child portion of the viewership.
The lowest rating of any episode in the entire franchise was with the episode ‘peacekeepers’, when the airtime was pushed back 1.5 hours, but the change was only announced (tweeted) mere days before, so most people who wanted to watch tuned in at the “regular” time and didn’t see it. Kids in particular don’t get command of the main household tv for several hours to continue watching, and they generally just zap away. The ratings took a staggering dive down compared to the preceding episode of one and a half million (and bounced back up a million again the next episode). Which part of the ratings barely budged? The adults. A little 0.5 to 0.4 blip.
Remember this one?
Clearly the children - Nick’s main demographic - are way more impacted by (sudden) schedule changes in days and airtimes, while the adults more easily find out about those changes. Children are more easily affected by “trivial” factors. Airtime, schedule changes, the lead-in programs, advertisement, than the adults. When even the hardcore fans are only coming in when book 3 is halfway done airing, because they didn’t know book 3 had started already, there is a problem in spreading the awareness.
I ended up turning my response to this into a new post (partly because I wanted it to get into the tags, partly because I’m on mobile and it was easier that way) but I want to make sure to thank you for pushing me in that direction with your own observations. I’d already been thinking some of these things, but I think this helped me put those thoughts into words.