Network Decay / Notable Aversions

The channel has managed to avoid decay, either by working on a genre that is broad enough that it is resistant to decay, or that the executives feel that channel is good enough that they don’t need to change anything. Of course obviously any channel that is not listed on this page would count as this, but we’ve listed a few (honorable) mentions.

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    TCM's Aversion 
  • While there are plenty of networks that have managed to avoid Network Decay, there is one particularly notable aversion that should be mentioned. Perhaps as a response to the general decline in broadcasts of pre-1980 films since the Turn of the Millennium, Turner Classic Movies seems intent on avoiding a shift in their purpose.

    Movies from 1980 onward remain rare, and usually shown to fit a theme block with the older movies (in particular the "31 Days of Oscar" promotion in February/early March, where any movie that had at least an Oscar nomination can qualify for an airing) or when there's a special guest programmer for the night, who discusses why they picked the movie before and after it airs.note  But for the most part, they show films largely (if not completely) abandoned by other movie networks: not just the obvious titles like Citizen Kane and Casablanca, but lesser-known "programmers" and B-movies, silents, international classics, live-action Disney films from the 1950s-70s, cult titles for its TCM Underground block, vintage one-reel shorts and old promotional featurettes as interstitial programming, etc. Some titles they've shown fall under Keep Circulating the Tapes territory in North America otherwise (they aired Only Yesterday as part of a Studio Ghibli retrospective in 2006, for instance). The network has aired a few original specials and miniseries, but all of them are documentaries about classic films (i.e., the history of early sci-fi films, a long interview with Woody Allen about all of his films, the expansive The Story of Film: An Odyssey) or programs that strongly relate to them (for instance, in 2006 vintage episodes of The Dick Cavett Show featuring such guests as Alfred Hitchcock and Bette Davis were aired, along with a newly-produced interview between Cavett and Mel Brooks; in 2013, vintage interviews with film stars from The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson were shown in one-hour blocks prior to a lineup of films featuring some of the stars in question).

    TCM is much acclaimed when it comes to modifications of films without infuriating traditionalists. They’re good about letterboxing when necessary (to the point of producing and frequently airing an educational short explaining to non-cinephiles how aspect ratios work and why letterboxing is a good idea). They're also very good about presenting stuff in monochrome if it was originally produced that way... ironically enough, given that the man who founded the channel (Ted Turner) was the most notorious proponent of "colorizing" old B&W content in The '80s! They were also the only notable broadcaster that stuck with Audio Description over their second audio program channel when other networks outside of PBS tried to abandon that to focus unsuccessfully on Spanish dub tracks before the FCC brought the networks back in line; in 2016 their library is about the most open to those with visual and hearing impairments, beyond a doubt.

    TCM is also one of the last TV networks to have knowledgeable on-air hosts introduce films before their airing. Until his death in 2017, film historian Robert Osborne, who was with the channel since its beginning, was the more famous of the two — he did introductions and outros for the films that air prime time every day (and a new one each time a film is shown, too, as TCM's prime time schedule often features a loose theme). Film critic Ben Mankiewicz is the other. He presents a handful of films that air during the daytime and on the weekends (although his aren't new for every episode).

    Even more impressively, In a World... where every other basic cable channel seems to be about maximizing profit and squeezing commercials into every last nook and cranny (so that you won't change channels), TCM steadfastly refuses outside advertisingnote  and runs everything uncut (even if it's rated R or TV-MA). And the network has been this way from the very beginning. This near-insane dedication to task won them a 2008 Peabody Award.

    Interestingly there is a small, but vocal, minority that claims that Turner Classic Movies has suffered from Network Decay by showing films made after an arbitrary year, or showing too many foreign films. An August 2016 petition demanding TCM refocus their programming to only show films made before 1960 was pretty much laughed out of existence by cinephiles. Particularly when the creator of the petition showed up on the TCM forums and crowed that The Godfather, of all movies, was not worthy of being screened on the channel.

    It should also be noted that TCM's birth came about because of TNT's programming shift towards general entertainment. TNT was Turner's first classic movie channel. Perhaps there's a lesson here...
    • Notably, there are very few post-2000 films shown; the most recent title to air on the channel is Aki Kaurismäki's Le Havre (2011), which aired as part of TCM's annual Labor Day tribute to the Telluride Film Festival. Even films from the 1980s and '90s are generally confined to special programming blocs and events, most notably "31 Days of Oscar". (And that festival itself is an aversion to decay of a sort: It's 31 days long because when it began it aired over March, when the awards were held. When they were moved back to February, they decided to move the marathon back too — but let it carry over into March rather than cut 2-3 days from it!)
    • The Latin American TCM also fits with "abandoned stuff" by showing old TV series (from The Twilight Zone and Bonanza to MacGyver and The X-Files). Unlike the original they're starting to air outside commercials, but luckily newer movies are only for special blocks (i.e. The Matrix and its sequels for a special on trilogies).

    Toonami’s Aversion 
  • Compared to Cartoon Network’s other divisions whom have fluctuated in regards to decaying over the years, Toonami (and by extension, its former sister blocks such as Miguzi, Saturday Video Entertainment System, the action part of [adult swim], etc.) has been very dependable in terms of sticking to its mission of showcasing anime and action cartoons. While there have been a few oddballs in rare occasions such as Hamtaro and Wulin Warriors (mainly due to Executive Meddling), such "experiments" were never really successfulnote . But after the Boston Bomb Scare and the infamous "CN Real" era came to prominence, unlike going down the Network Decay path like Adult Swim had, CN would eventually can Toonami entirely due to flagging ratings—a direct result of moving the block to Saturdays only and reduced it to reruns and Naruto, which was at the time working through the now-infamous pre-Shippuden Filler Arc (ironically, the end of Toonami came mere weeks before they would've completed the "Filler Hell" portion of Naruto and transitioned into Shippuden; this allowed Disney to pick up the rights to Shippuden instead and air it in ludicrously censored form on Disney XD). Not surprisingly, folks have cited the downfall of Toonami as one of the lowest points of CN’s Dork Age (perhaps only rivaled by the rise of CN Real) and had a knock-on effect on anime’s popularity as a whole, as the loss of Toonami, considered to be one of the biggest Gateway Series to anime in general in the west, is considered to be a big contribution to the infamous ending of the 90’s-2000’s anime boom. Prior to 2012, the only legacy that was left of Toonami was Adult Swim’s anime block, which was reduced to Saturday nights and flooded with endless reruns.

    Fortunately, as Cartoon Network started refocusing its efforts on showcasing animation, on April Fools' Day 2012, Adult Swim briefly replaced their normal Saturday night block with Toonami to rave reception. After a huge fan campaign, they brought back Toonami on a regular basis starting May 26, 2012.Presently, the revived Toonami is building off on Adult Swim’s action block, but out of the gate, it's done its part to help revive anime in the west. It has cemented such hits as Bleach, and Naruto, among others and even turned Deadman Wonderland, a program that tanked badly in Japan, into a hit with a bonafide fanbase. And perhaps because of this success, they've even gotten the privilege of showing Space Dandy just before it was broadcast in Japan.

    And you know what’s even more impressive? Perhaps as a response to the many animation-related networks being some of the biggest examples of Network Decay, Toonami has been pretty adamant on avoiding a shift in their purpose, in a similar fashion to sister network TCM. While you can still see live-action programming on Adult Swim, Toonami has stated that they would like to avoid airing live action altogether on the block , which fortunately the parent network has obliged so far. On that same topic, contrary to semi-popular belief, mostly by the more elitist anime fans that say that Toonami airing western-made action cartoons on the new block would count as Network Decay, fans and even the creators themselves have long said otherwise, with its long history of showcasing action toons cited as the reason. In fact, if Toonami were to air slice of life, non-action romantic comedies, or anime of the "Otaku Pandering" varieties, unless said show can be consumed by general audiences, that actually would count as Network Decay (which Toonami doesn't plan on showing anyway).
    • Asia has contributed to the Toonami revival efforts by launching a Toonami channel of its own in late 2012. However, Toonami Asia’s conception was through the decay and re-branding of its region’s Boomerang channel, which was the end result of CN Asia relegating all of their programming, save for old classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons and Ben 10, to Boomerang and losing the purpose of both networks in the process. Eventually Boomerang Asia was canned, and CN Asia started working on an action cartoon channel. Do note that Toonami Asia was being conceived at a time when the conception of the revival of the U.S equivalent was still unknown, even to them. Their decision of using the Toonami brand was mainly because Asia has also had a Toonami block of its own, and also achieved success with an established fanbase to go with it, along with the fact that some of the channel’s heads have mentioned that they were/are also fans of the US equivalent.

      Currently, the channel airs CN produced action cartoons and a couple anime titles, though their crew has stated that there are plans to air more anime and action cartoons in the future. It does help that the Asian crew are fans of the American crew’s work and would love to replicate their success, albeit in their own fashion (for example, to prevent messing with the continuity of the US equivalent, Toonami Asia has its own host, Nami, with her own story). Like the US equivalent, time will tell how their efforts will go.
    • In the UK, Toonami previously had a channel of its own back during the channel’s "golden age", however, its fate wasn’t as fortunate. It started out as CNX, a channel devoted to shows that appealed to the American equivalent of shonen in the mornings and afternoons, with uncensored anime and kung fu movies later at night. However, its Toonami block, which was placed at CNX at the time, would quickly expand to take over the entire channel, which still fit the channel's original mission until they started showing live action. Since then, it eventually mutated into CN Too, which is actually marketed as a second Cartoon Network. As of 2014, there are no plans to revive Toonami in the UK at its current venture.

    Other Notable Aversions 
  • Losing Cartoon Express aside, USA Network really seems to have gotten better as time went on. Unlike sister network Syfy, USA never really had one gimmick or target demographic to cater to; back in the 80s and 90s, they were known for seeming being the "melting pot" of cable TV; they aired old movies, sports, reruns, game shows, and even court shows. They can get away with showing almost anything and either get high ratings (WWE Raw; Psych), critical acclaim (The 4400; The Starter Wife), or both (Monk; Burn Notice; Mr. Robot). Their slogan "Characters Welcome" means they are able to put on whatever they want as long as it has a strong character driven plot, which encompasses almost all of fiction, without worrying about Network Decay.

    After the amazing Night Flight was cancelled in 1988, USA may have been most famous in the late '80s and early '90s for "Up All Night," where it showed B movies on late night weekends hosted by either Rhonda Shear's boobs or Gilbert Gottfried's grating voice. So yes, it can be fair to say the quality of programming has gone up. They can pretty much show anything, and advertise The Bourne Supremacy and Along Came Polly equally without having anyone bat an eye, and even have shows that match such movies thematically.

    If you think about it for a while, USA is really what its (older) sister network, NBC, wishes it could be. Thing is, the shows that are a success on USA would never be given time to find their audience on an over-the-air network. Often if you do count it without the usual broadcast/cable split, it's easily the #4 or #5 network in all of television depending on the night, and has beat NBC in the ratings on several occasions.
  • Comedy Central still, by some miracle, shows this thing called "comedy". The Daily Show and The Nightly Show for example, are news shows... but still comedies! There was panic when Baywatch was temporarily added to the lineup as a tie-in to the the David Hasselhoff Roast, but unintentional comedy is still comedy.note 
    • The UK version of Comedy Central has had a weird past. It first started as The Paramount Channel back in 1995; true to its name, it aired a lot of of Paramount Pictures archive material, but also aired comedy shows, drama series, The Ren & Stimpy Show (its sister channel, Nickelodeon, which it would timeshare with on Sky until the analogue service ended, wouldn't air it in the UK due to the adult-ish nature of the series), Rocky and Bullwinkle, and even Entertainment Tonight. However, after about a year, all non-comedic shows were dropped and it became known as Paramount Comedy; by 2009, the renamed Paramount Comedy 1 was pretty much Comedy Central in all but name, so when CC got its current logo Stateside, PC1 got its long awaited rename.
  • Any shopping or infomercial channel. As long as they can stick a toll free number on the bottom of the screen and a price on the side, they can sell anything and everything and never be accused of decaying. (Although nowadays, they also have a website address, as well, in a case of Technology Marches On).
  • You can always count on public access cable channels to have low-quality production values and to cover local events with a homespun angle you don't find on the network stations.
    • Many stations now devote a significant part of their schedule to satellite-delivered left-leaning national public affairs from Free Speech TV (mostly Democracy Now!) Many also feature retransmitted broadcasts from around the world via the SCOLA satellite network, where you can see NHK, Rossiya 1 and so forth as their home viewers see them, rather than repackaged versions for the American market.
  • Regional cable news channels like the News 12 networks in the New York suburbs and Charter's Spectrum News/NY1 system serving New York State and New York City proper (formerly udner the purview of Time Warner Cable), respectively (as well as outposts in Austin, Texas, the Carolinas and affiliates with separate names in Orlando and Tampa), and CLTV of Chicago (which is operated alongside WGN) usually stick to just news confined to their regions. But on the most slow of news days they might wander a little out of their main coverage area, or cover national breaking news just to keep things moving along and not have to depend on inane feature reporting to fill time. In fact, NY 1 was commended for having about the most sane coverage of Hurricanes Irene and Sandy around, mainly because it was confined to the five boroughs and used the short 'news wheel' format to succinctly state what was going on, what to do, and how New York would be affected.
  • RFD TV (basically Rural TV) has pretty much stuck to shows for farmers and fans of rural living, along with nostalgic country programming to satisfy their needs. Although there was a threat of network decay when they aired Imus in the Morning for a couple years (but even then he owns a farm for ill children in New Mexico, so it still easily fit the network's mission), Imus has moved on to Fox Business Network and it's all farm programming (and of course, I Love Toy Trains!, a cult favorite of The Soup) there. The network is so dedicated to their mission that the network's CEO made a clear promise never to air either an infomercial or any erectile dysfunction drug ads on their air, though there was a little Loophole Abuse in 2013 when they decided to turn the homespun story of the creator of the "My Pillow" into a hidden infomercial to buy said pillow. They also bought a second network, FamilyNet, to carry more rural programming, but kept that network's infomercial block to maintain their revenue.
    • FamilyNet now dedicates itself to reruns of classic television shows, among them Barney Miller, T.J. Hooker, Fantasy Island and All in the Familywithout cuts! Viewers who are used to watching these old relics hacked to bits on Me-TV and other stations over the years can rediscover their favorites as they were meant to be.
  • C-SPAN is dependable as can be. The mainstay is still House and Senate sessions (or should we say, House sessions and Senate quorum calls). When the houses aren't in session, you'll get some light non-inflaming political talk, academic panel discussions, the Prime Minister's Question Time once a week, and whatever other political events they can find, along with the network's continued fight to get any shred of Supreme Court arguments on the air (even if it's just still pictures of justices with audio). Oh, and Book TV on C-SPAN2 during the weekends. There, you might get a little Kindle talk, but otherwise if it's bound with pages, that's all you'll get there. Of course, it helps that C-SPAN is contractually obliged not to decay.
  • Hallmark Channel, and its little sister Hallmark Movie Channel, are pretty well guarded against decay. Even with their daytime block of home and crafting programming, repeats of sitcoms from the 80's to the present, and their hyperfocus on Christmas TV movies in the last part of the year. Unless the network suddenly signs a contract with a monster trucking circuit, the channel's mission is so broad anything works as long as it makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Hallmark Movie Channel did recently cut its slight decay off at the pass by rebranding itself as Hallmark Movies and Mysteries, thereby justifying its daytime reruns of classic murder-mystery TV series (Murder, She Wrote, Hart to Hart, Diagnosis: Murder, etc.)
  • It's surprising that Network Decay in general hasn't been used as an argument against defunding PBS. The last time the conservative movement had enough power in Washington, D.C. to bring that under serious discussion, the existence of networks such as the Discovery Channel, The History Channel and TLC were used to argue that we don't need PBS anymore. All those have undergone significant decay since then — Discovery and TLC are now dominated by Reality Shows, while History has been devoting an increasing (and, frankly, scary) amount of time to conspiracy theories and pseudoscience. All in all, PBS has done a very good job of avoiding Network Decay throughout its existence.
  • If a network is owned by a sports league or is devoted to a specific sport, all you'll get is content from that sports league or sport. Well, most of the time; NBA TV shows international basketball, the NFL Network showed Arena Football and CFL games in the past (plus a few all-star college bowl games, mainly because they primarily feature NFL prospects), NHL Network has featured coverage of IIHF tournaments and other major Canadian non-NHL events (i.e. the Memorial Cup), while Toronto's Leafs TV also shows events for their farm team, the Toronto Marlies in the AHL. MLB Network during the offseason airs games from smaller leagues including the Arizona Fall League and many of the winter leagues in the Caribbean and Central and South America. Most sports fans wouldn't mind that these programs, especially if the sports league is in its off-season in which fans of that sport may be craving for some more of that sport (while the channel itself can't count on its league to fill its programming day).
  • ESPN has stayed pretty true to its original pledge of bringing you sports in all of its flavors. Of course, much of that nowadays is brought to you by talking head shows rather than the actual sport. And their definition of sports is broad enough to include the Scripps National Spelling Bee and poker (and, at one time, Magic: The Gathering). But, it still does devote a bit of its time to the ideal of its now parent company's flagship sports show, ABC's Wide World of Sports, so you'll still be able to find the odd karate skill-breaking competition or cheerleading competition.
  • The Film Zone originally showed both new and old movies before dedicating itself to movies too old for other channels, but not old enough for Retro and TCM.
  • Technically cable music channels (the ones that just air audio and display the track and artist information) like DMX, Music Choice and MTV's Urge package aren't really television channels, but beyond throwing out the occasional fad or Dead Horse Genre format (what's Toni Basil's "Mickey" doing in the rotation of Music Choice's Classic Alternative station? A throwback to when it was the New Wave channel), these channels are designed to purposefully not decay based on format division between each channel (you're never going to find Lady Gaga playing on the Oldies channel, for instance).
  • Channels from international broadcasters, especially those funded by their individual governments, are almost always undecayable since said government is always going to present their country in the best way possible. Though as seen below...
  • BBC America has begun to add American sci-fi programs to their lineup. It started with Star Trek: The Next Generation repeats for seemingly no reason other than that Patrick Stewart is British (even though his character is French), and then later with The X-Filesnote  and the revived Battlestar Galactica. Other than these three shows and the American version of Kitchen Nightmares, BBC America nearly exclusively shows what it always has, British programming mostly (but not strictly) from The BBC. The channel just basically shows "British Programming", and the only reasons it has the BBC name is that it's owned by The BBC (revenues from the channel end up supporting the Corporation's domestic output, while distribution and other logistics are handled by AMC Networks (and before them Discovery Communications)) and the name "BBC" has the same kind of name recognition in America for "British Programming" as "NPR" does for "public radio"; indeed, snows from ITV and other networks have been shown on BBCA before. According to this article, BBC America's new president "would like to add more made-in-America series to the U.K.-heavy lineup". Take that as you will. Doctor Who and Top Gear (both owned by The BBC) are still among the most played on the channel, which at least keeps its British roots.
    • With new original non-fiction series based on the podcast The Nerdist and tech blog Gizmodo, BBC America seems to be making an attempt to carry the "geek television" banner that G4 abandoned once it careened into total decay. The channel still clings to its "British" identity to the point where its two original fiction series, Copper and Orphan Black, having a more similar look and feel to the actual BBC's drama series than American ones. Also, the shift was needed as online services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video began to take British television rights never claimed before online video took off, while PBS opened up the staid formatting of their British showcase Masterpiece Theatre to allow more contemporary programming.
  • The Canadian channel The Movie Network (TMN) (formerly available in Eastern Canada only and now available nationwide after the buyout of Movie Central, which held the western part of the country until April 2016), originally known as First Choice, is similar to TCM in the fact that they don't show commercials during movies and the commercials they show between films are advertising the network itself or are actually independent Canadian short films. Pretty much all of their programming is movies or movie-related. They will also show HBO series/specials, but this is a good thing because Canadian audiences really wouldn't have anywhere else to see them; besides, HBO is short for Home Box Office.
    • Generally the same with Movie Central (MC), originally known as Superchannel, which was available in Western Canada only until the merger above. It should be noted, however, that both TMN and MC partnered on HBO Canada, which is generally original shows sourced from HBO. Incidentially, First Choice and Superchannel (which was then owned by Allarcom, later WIC, before WIC was split up with its cable holdings generally sold to Corus Entertainment, a company related to Shaw) were jointly marketed from 1984 to 1989 as "First Choice Superchannel".
  • ITV 4 has also fallen into this. Good range of programmes, slightly better than ITV 2, as in no wacky shows like The Only Way Is Essex (except maybe for Get Away, a car-theft gameshow with a Ms. Fanservice presenter. The show is so obscure there's nothing on Google about it.). However, it only shows a limited selection of Police, Camera, Action! episodes, not the full series, and Police Stop! misses out Police Stop! 11, a Very Special Episode. Fans are not amused. Other shows just about get the full rotation run though, namely Minder as one example.
  • MeTV still focuses on showing long-canceled TV shows from the 1950s through the 1980s. The closest it has to original programming is Svengoolie, a Chicago horror host who focuses on classic horror films (and the occasional airing of the Marx Brothers classic Duck Soup) and is a longtime fixture of Me-TV's founding station. Since horror hosts are, themselves, a part of classic TV and the show embraces a No Budget theme prevalent at the time among local programming, it's still well within its theme. It also helps that the show is over 40 years old itself and has survived a cancellation, being Un-Cancelled in 1979 under the name of Son of Svengoolie with a new host, who has hosted the show to this very day.
  • In the beginning, Mark Cuban's HDNet was revolutionary, since it was one of the first cable networks with an entirely high definition lineup. Its programming had always been male-oriented general entertainment, with a focus primarily on concerts, sports (such as auto racing, MMA, and NHL games for a period), travel programs, and off-network reruns of assorted dramas. But, the gimmick started to wear off as more and more mainstream channels began introducing HD feeds; it voluntarily gave airtime to Joe Francis for some Girls Gone Wild contests and a few more shows where women show off their...endowments, including the sexcom Svetlana.
    • Eventually, Ryan Seacrest and Anschutz Entertainment Group purchased a stake in the network and re-formatted it to AXS TV in 2012, which is dedicated to pop culture, entertainment, and concert programming (which seems to be stubbornly set to the 'jam rock' and '70's rock'). The branding may have suggested a slip, alongside the fact that its no longer exclusively available in HD (a letterboxed SD feed was launched on Dish Network to coincide with the re-launch), but did HDNet really have a genre to begin with, aside from being all HD?
  • In another case though, sister network HD Movies has delivered on its promises; quality HD films presented the way they were intended without commercials as a modern-day TCM. The network even premieres films funded by Cuban's Magnolia Pictures studio weeks before they hit movie theaters, a major help to someone in the middle of South Dakota who doesn't want to have to make a long drive to Denver (or even the local video store, if there's still one) just to see an indie or art film.
  • Eurochannel, a Brazilian channel (with feeds in four languages) dedicated to broadcast series and movies from Europe, with dedication to little known productions of countries not usually in the limelight, has been doing this for almost 20 years with little change on its mission and style.
  • Zigzagged with the American Heroes channel, a Discovery Channel affiliate. It has gone through several stages of network decay, but each time it has changed its name to reflect this. Originally the Discovery Wings Channel airing shows about aircraft, it changed its name to the Military Channel since the majority of its programs were about the military. After it started airing shows about non-military valor and such, it was renamed the American Heroes Channel. The next stage is probably dropping the "American" part because it airs shows about non-American heroes.
  • Universal Studios theme parks, although backtracking on film production since around the 2000s (and Universal Studios Florida having no Studio Tour since 1995), have maintained their general focus on movies and television shows (and in the future video games) and continue to be working film studios to a certain capacity, although by the mid-late 2000s they started cutting back on aging "behind-the-scenes" experiences. This is more than can be said for Universal Studios Florida rival Disney's Hollywood Studios, despite that park having more attendance than the former. However, in USF the New York area suffered, for a while, a unique decay in which the two main attractions from 2004-2015, Twister...Ride it Out and Revenge of the Mummy, were inconsistent of the overall themeing of the area (neither attraction's source material is set in New York City). That might change when Twister gets replaced with Race Through New York Starring Jimmy Fallon in 2017.

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