Tokyo: Children are fast distancing themselves from animated cartoons on television, lowering audience ratings and pushing them out of the prime viewing hours from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m., while various cartoon categories for adults are competing against each other in the hours after midnight.
“Animated cartoons are no longer children’s first choice,” said Tomu Oki, a public relations official at TV Tokyo Corp., which had been putting emphasis on animated cartoons.
According to Video Research Ltd., the annual average audience rating of animated cartoon programmes in the Kanto region was 6.2% in 2001, but it was 3.6% last year. Only a few programmes, such as “Sazae-san” and “Chibi Maruko-chan” are enjoying ratings of more than 10%.
Among the reasons cited are a declining birth rate, absence of children from the home in the hours when animated cartoons are broadcast due to attendance at cram schools and culture lessons and popularization of home game machines, Oki said.
Symbolic is Fuji Television Network Inc.’s programme reorganization in fall last year. The adventure fantasy cartoon “One Piece” formerly broadcast during prime time was moved to Sunday morning in the Kanto region.
Fuji was the producer of such popular programmes as “Dragon Ball” and in the second half of the 1970s through the 1980s, its “Dr. Slump Arare-chan” and other cartoons enjoyed audience ratings of more than 30%, reaching new heights of popularity. But this is now a thing of the past.