The channel’s decay either is in a situation where it doesn’t fit any of the other categories, or is constantly fluctuating between decaying and recovering.
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Cartoon Network channels
"We knew adults really didn’t care about the quality of animation. With children, if you had something brightly colored and moving, you could make it go. But with adults, they become bored pretty quickly with the dancing brooms unless it's exceedingly well done. From the start, words were more important than pictures."
- If a channel can be given the title of "the MTV of the Internet Generation", that dubious honor would very likely belong to Cartoon Network, originally used as a showcase for classic Hanna-Barbera and Warner Brothers cartoons, but these were eventually replaced by an increasing number of original productions and anime; the Boomerang network was created to serve that purpose that the parent network initially served at its inception. The decision to run original programming created an era that can be perceived as the network's Golden Age as well as becoming a major contributor to the The Renaissance Age of Animation, as it generated popular shows that broke out of the Animation Age Ghetto (like The Powerpuff Girls and Dexter's Laboratory) and helped fuel the anime boom at the turn of the century (thanks to Toonami and [adult swim]).
The good times were not to last, sadly. Complaints of decay begun as early as 2004, when Cartoon Network changed its logo to the abbreviated "CN". Around this time, the older Cartoon Cartoons stopped airing new episodes and were pushed into the background; this was somewhat justified, however, as many of those series were out of first run. In late 2005, they even began running a small amount of live-action movies (though at the time, they were mercifully rare).
Then, in early 2007, already a turbulent year for television due to the writer's strike, a major executive change at the network occurred when then-current president Jim Samples resigned over the controversy of the Boston Bomb Scare. Shortly thereafter, then-Vice President Jennifer Davidson passed away due to a sudden illness. This resulted in Cartoon Network’s two head honchos both being replaced by Stuart Snyder and Robert Sorchernote . Some fans hoped that Snyder would restore CN to its 1997–2004 peak years, but it was clear that the once famed network was never going to be the same.
Under Snyder, the network continued to phase out older original series, including Ed Eddn Eddy and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy. The network fell deeper and deeper into Network Hell as its executives, possibly in response to rumored labor issues with writing or animation staff (this was during the writer's strike, and some people claiming to have worked there at the time say there was come sort of contract issue with either the domestic or Asian animation teams), tried to turn it into a generic kids' network to compete with Nickelodeon and the Disney Channel — they killed Toonami (and its replacement, Miguzi) in complete defiance of what the viewers wanted, then replaced those blocks by starting to show live-action films on a more frequent basis. The decay also forced [adult swim] and Boomerang to decay as well, to heavy disdain by their fanbases, while also causing tension within the network, with many veteran animators either quitting or being handed their walking papers (although there is some dispute as to the direction of causality, with some claiming that the turn toward live action was prompted by losses of animators). This attempt to rebrand the network came to a head when CN Real, a block of live-action reality shows and scripted series, was created in 2009. To the surprise of nobody except the network higher-ups, CN Real tanked harder than anything the network had ever done before.
Realizing where they went wrong, the network has made a strong effort to return to their roots with reruns of Tom and Jerry, Looney Tunes, and the like as part of their regular weekday morning lineup, and they've been pitching new animated series to cater to certain interests, like Star Wars: The Clone Wars, Adventure Time, and Regular Show. Meanwhile the channel has slowly attempted to reboot older properites through shows like Scooby-Doo! Mystery Incorporated. CN also gradually phased out live-action shows (which while initially under the CN Real brand, later weren't for obvious reasons) and gave them less advertising in comparison to the newer animation projects (in sharp contrast to the marketing CN Real initially got), to the point that Hall of Game (which became now nothing more an an annual Kids Choice Awards-esque sports awards event), the last of what remained of the live-action content present on the network, was effectively cancelled after the 2014 event. (The channel also routinely shows G-rated live action movies like Diary of a Wimpy Kid on Saturday evenings and Sunday afternoons, though this is mostly just for filler). The much-appreciated revival of Toonami and Cartoon Planet (the latter done as part of the network's 20th anniversary celebration) brought a silver lining in the clouds that Cartoon Network can return to its former glory in the fans' eyes-a silver lining that grew larger with the departure of Stuart Snyder as CEO in March 2014 (Christina Miller was officially announced as his replacement in September later that year).
On the other hand, Executive Meddling is still very prevalent, as evidenced by the network's constant timeslot-shifting shenanigans and swift cancellations of action shows such as Sym-Bionic Titan and ThunderCats (2011) as well as DC Nation's Green Lantern: The Animated Series and Young Justice. Some of this can be blamed on the fact the network greenlit most of these aiming at a certain demographic, which they won over, but didn't like the results, leaving the people that genuinely loved these shows alienated as the channel aimed its next projects in a very different direction (for example, the DC Nation block was conceived and timed to attract pre- and young teens, but attracted a young adult audience that was severely hampered by the time slot and didn't extend much beyond the vocal internet following that praised it). This wasn't helped by the network losing an hour of airtime to [adult swim] in 2014, all of which was used for more FOX reruns. The network also made it clear that the 6am Eastern timeslot on weekday mornings is where no show wants to be; Ben 10: Omniverse had a quick six-week early-morning burn off in the early fall to get it off the network's books. Despite all this, many fans are content with the channel being where it is now and believe the company is almost out of the Dork Age it went through in the late 2000s, and later early-morning burn-offs now mainly consist of contractually-obligated Candian content shows from YTV or Tele Toon note . Not helping by the fact that, in 2015 onwards, Teen Titans Go! (a show with a large Periphery Hatedom) have aired more and more, and shows such as Adventure Time and Regular Show stopped airing reruns completely, and it was announced that Steven Universe would have reduced reruns to make room for Teen Titans Go!, though in the latter case, the decision was rolled back after considerable backlash (Steven Universe now has reruns in special blocks themed around a certain character or concept). Many blame Christina Miller who is a Moral Guardian who finds Adventure Time, Regular Show, and Steven Universe too violent and raunchy for kids. With Uncle Grandpa unceremoniously cancelled and left to be burned off in a graveyard slot, Transformers: Robots in Disguise left to languish in another graveyard slot with no reruns, Regular Show and Adventure Time respectively ending in the coming years (the former in 2017 with its seventh season; the latter in 2018 with its eighth season), Teen Titans Go! being renewed for a fourth season despite flagging ratings, and the base-breaking reboots of The Powerpuff Girls and Ben 10, is uncertain whether the channel will continue its success or will enter another Dork Age.
In the end, Cartoon Network is one of the most intriguing examples of Network Decay, if only because of how much of a rollercoaster ride the network's ridden in regards to the trope. CN, during the height of their live-action phase, could at one point spend as much as eighteen months showcasing live-action shows, only to go back to animation the next day as if nothing happened — and just when you get comfortable with that, return to live-action.
- Boomerang, Cartoon Network's classic animation channel, has a run in with this. Boomerang felt it was supposed to take over CN's classic cartoons. As while yes it did feature shows not on the main channel it also was more a dumping ground for what had fallen out of favor on the main network. As time went on more and more shows began competing for the same limited airtime, even including reruns of shows still airing on the main channel in certain casesnote .
Adding insult to injury was that only two types of commercials that were actually related to the network (the American one, anyway) were shown on the channel when CN's decay was in full effect: "Boomer-Royalty" and a random commercial about a show they air; all of the network's promotions are never updated, meaning a Powerpuff Girls promo from 2012 strangely had to coexist with a Huckleberry Hound ad which has been part of their promo loop since 2001. Everything else was promoting (mostly) live-action shows on Cartoon Network, with Boomerang never promoting the airtime for shows that weren't on CN. And if there's a special event coming up on CN, commercials for the event would air between and after the show at least once or twice. The network has since changed their position to air advertisements for other products like other channels.
All feeds of the network worldwide got a international rebranding throughout 2014 and 2015 with a new focus towards younger viewers, the inclusion of paid advertisements, and the addition of newly-acquired animated series; though executives promised that classic cartoons would co-exist with the newer cartoons on the channel. But given the state of the (American) channel and the examples of older cartoons that were listed as staying on the revamped network, it seems the only changes made to the channel were the vintage format of the original network (right down to the logo, which now looks like a tweaked version of the 2010 CN logo) and the older cartoons that aren't Cash Cow Franchises and/or popular with older CN viewers-both of which will be dropped in favor of the network branding and the newer programming.
Adding to the 2015 Boomerang reboot, some interesting changes were afoot. During the summer of 2015, through their "Pet of the Week" event, the block featured the return of Courage the Cowardly Dog and the network premiere of The Sylvester and Tweety Mysteries. On a less popular side, Teen Titans Go! started airing as much as it does on the parent channel, even leading to a stint of running everyday by early 2016. However, Boomerang also introduced a series of new original programming, such as Wabbit: A Looney Tunes Production, Be Cool, Scooby-Doo! and Bunnicula, as well as airing new episodes of The Tom And Jerry Show and The Garfield Show. While there are positives and negatives about the reboot at hand, things are slowly start to look bright for the future. Classic cartoons will now be appearing on a streaming website with the channel's name.
- Latin America had Boomerang's situation worse during the late 2000s/early 2010s. In 2006, the classic shows format was changed to a equivalent of India's POGO, first aimed at a family audience, but in 2008 changed showing only programs aimed at teenage girls, including CN Real shows and many MTV shows like Parental Control and Date My Mom. Later, they created Tooncast, which fulfilled Boomerang's original purpose. Then, on April 1, 2014, Boomerang L.A. suddenly rearranged their programming grill to get animation and classic shows back (in a move seemingly induced to homogenize the international feeds) and moved all their live action shows to the late night-early morning slot, to the happiness of almost everybody but the teens who followed Pretty Little Liars. The live-action shows were finally dropped in 2015.
- Asia’s Cartoon Network and Boomerang in the late 2000’s really had a problem in regards to where their programming was supposed to be placed, going to the point where all new shows premier on Boomerang Asia while Cartoon Network Asia restricted itself to airing mostly old classic Hanna-Barbera cartoons and Ben 10, with an occasional mix-up every now and then. Eventually Boomerang Asia was canned and eventually replaced with an Asian equivalent of Toonami and focused its mission on action shows while Asia’s regular CN shifted towards animated comedy, though the shenanigans of Ben 10 and old HB cartoons still remain, even with Boomerang relaunching and running alongside Toonami and the main Cartoon Network channel as of 2015. At this point, Boomerang aired mostly third party programming alongside the occasional old cartoons, Toonami focusing on action shows and anime, and the main network airs animated comedy, old HB/DFE/WB cartoons, and Ben 10.
- Although Cartoon Network eventually started returned to its roots in the USA, it's hardly like this in Latin America, and is flip-flopping between this and Slipped. During their earlier years, the channel was simply a Latin American clone of its parent channel in the USA (it was launched a mere six months after the U.S. channel), but by the end of The '90s they started to branch out on their programming choices, with the Latin American premieres of Pokémon, Card Captor Sakura, Rurouni Kenshin, and others before they added Toonami in 2002, airing shows also seen in the U.S. block like Dragon Ball Z, InuYasha and Mobile Suit Gundam Wing.
It's quite debatable when exactly the channel dipped into Network Decay. For fans of classic animation it was right when the channel added anime, for otaku it was right when anime started disappearing, and for others it was when Ben 10 got literally all the channel's attention.
It should be noted that the Latin American subsidiary has four different signals: one for Mexico, one for Argentina, one for Brazil, and one for the rest of Latin America. Around late 2003, in Mexico, all of Toonami's anime moved into a midnight timeslot due to complaints from parents that the series aired were too violent for their children. Not only that, the Mexican sponsors had a good regulation and patrol of this block, so rumors say that they were the ones who mandated to change the block's timeslot. In late 2004, the rest of the Latin American signals followed suit. Toonami itself was cancelled in March 2007, although its former timeslot still aired anime (in part due to their promise to air every single episode of Dragon Ball, from the original to GT, including the movies and special episodes), which depending on the feed, lasted until December 2008.
In 2005, it was obvious that they were rapidly losing anime licenses, especially since Animax had just premiered. Around late 2005, CNLA announced that they were going to add [adult swim] into their weekend's late programming to fill the "dead" hours of Saturday and Sunday. However, it also started some debates in internet sites and forums when people started it to compare with the American version (that was still showing anime). Of course, the guys behind the Latin American AS went into their way to mock this and people didn't like it. However, this ended badly when the block was censored by some cable operators, and even separated from its own channel, in countries like Argentina and Chile. This was mainly because parents were letting kids stay up so late to see AS when the programming was obviously not directed at them. Eventually the block was moved to sister channel Isat in early 2008, and disappeared completely from there in January 2011.
When Ben 10 premiered in 2006, it was extremely well-received so they went out of their way to focus on it. This had a few unfortunate side-effects, as the Grand Finales of Foster's Home for Imaginary Friends and Codename: Kids Next Door, as well as the 10th anniversary special of The Powerpuff Girls were glossed over. Even worse, the remains of Toonami were pushed even further into overnight slots, with shows like One Piece and Ashita no Nadja that were clearly not meant for a 3 AM timeslot airing at said time. Eventually, Pokémon and Naruto were the last remaining anime on the channel.
By 2008, the channel was inheriting the American network's Network Decay in the States, and though it had CN's original series and late-night showings of classic Looney Tunes, Ben 10 was still Adored by the Network, at almost 10 showings a day. Then they started showing live-action movies - to be fair though, the movies were where most of the live action was. Live-action shows like Kamen Rider Dragon Knight and Unnatural History were the first to premiere in the Latin American channel, as former CN Real shows like Destroy Build Destroy and Dude, What Would Happen? would not be added until FOUR years after premiering in America, and they vanished swiftly after premiering. In the same year, the channel adopted a new slogan that perfectly summed up their programming choices for the majority of CN viewers: Hacemos lo que queremos (literally "We do what we want to").
At the time the channel passed into their own Noods era in 2010 (Toonix) and a little bit before the Check It one (the LA signals were the LAST ones to get into it), the programming schedules were at least somewhat stabilized with Adventure Time and Regular Show... and then the channel started to be beaten up in ratings by Disney Channel and Nickelodeon. A controversial decision was also to add, in late 2010, reruns of the Mexican classic series El Chapulín Colorado and El Chavo del ocho, which many CN fans did not like due to the fact both series have reran constantly for decades in other channels (they did not last much in CNLA, however, and were later moved to Boomerang and then to the LA version of TBS). CNLA then tried to beat Nick and Disney at their own game with new live action like Level Up and the original Latin American co-production with Televisa entitled La CQ, basically a mix-up of every U.S. sitcom aimed at teens that takes place in middle/high school (its name is the spelling of secu, abbreviation for secundaria, Spanish for middle school or high school depending on the region), and which got a quick and big Periphery Hatedom among the channel's older viewers up until it ended in 2014 and was removed from the channel in early 2015. CNLA also began censoring content on several of its programs, most notably on Regular Show, and for unknown reasons, it began to speed up or cut the opening and closing credits for most of their programs. Not only that, the commercial breaks started to become longer than usual, as the channel's series began airing for blocks of 15 minutes with some animated shorts playing between them.
As of 2017, the channel has been really in a rollercoaster, and it still gets criticism for the censoring done to several programs and for having most timeslots dominated by CN's current animated lineup (Adventure Time, Regular Show, The Amazing World of Gumball, Steven Universe, Uncle Grandpa, Teen Titans Go!, Clarence, We Bare Bears and The Powerpuff Girls (2016)) to the expense of everything else. Thankfully, unlike the U.S. channel, it has not been outright invaded by Teen Titans Go!. Outside of Power Rangers Mega Force (which got transferred from Nickelodeon as they were not interested in any further series after airing Samurai) and some movies, however, the live-action content is thankfully now nonexistant. In regards to anime, besides Pokemon, which has never stopped airing, the only series they have aired since the decay are Bakugan Battle Brawlers, Dragon Ball Kai,note and Digimon Xros Warsnote . Compared to the U.S. channel, it seems that they aren't going to come out of their own Dork Age yet. As it was the case with Stuart Snyder in the U.S., many people blame the current manager of CNLA, Pablo Zuccarino, for the decay (it doesn't help he has publicly said his objective is to make CNLA a channel completely appropiate for all children).
Other "Unique Situations" examples:
- By their very nature, sports channels which consist of nothing but college and high school sports (such as ESPNU, the Fox and CBS college sports channels, the Big Ten Network and ESPN's networks devoted to the SEC and Texas Longhorns) must decay in the summer due to the lack of college and high school sports being played. This means that they either carry minor league summer sports or some programming which strays slightly from the format, or air rerun after rerun of football and basketball games played months or years ago and with all of the drama of a live event removed with a simple check of the team schedule or even looking at the event's guide listing, along with reruns of coach's shows which could be awkward if said coach has been terminated since the first airing of an event.
- Tennis Channel is in a similar situation. During major tournaments, particularly the four Grand Slams, it features nearly round-the-clock coverage, but at other times has to fill out its schedule with original programming — Tennisography, "classic" matches (sometimes cut down to half an hour), Best of 5, Destination Tennis (a travel show), but all tennis-related. The farthest the channel has drifted from its actual subject (except for the requisite late-night/early-morning filler of infomercials) is an occasional flirtation with badminton or ping pong, but as those are net sports they still easily count (since there will never be a market for The Badminton Channel in the States).
- ONE World Sports also shows badminton, along with the 'club network' feeds of international soccer teams, Japanese baseball, Russian hockey and English cricket. When those sports aren't in season though they might show a lot of This Week in Baseball-like league programming to fill time.
- CBS College Sports mutated into the CBS Sports Network, and still shows all their college programming (including NCAA events and analysis shows), joined mostly by Jim Rome's show (after he got Screwed by the Network by ESPN) and sports leagues too tiny to be taken by any other network like pro lacrosse, the Arena Football League (it too got screwed over by ESPN) and the NBA D-League. One night, they even aired college paintball; one begins to wonder if laser tag is on the horizon (of course, Neil Patrick Harris would have to host that).
- Networks operated by specific pro sports teams go through similar issues during their team's offseason. The most common solution for filling airtime is broadcasting games of local/regional teams in other sports with different schedules; mostly these are teams who share ownership groups, but sometimes specific deals are made for TV rights. One example is the New York Yankees' YES Network, which airs live Brooklyn Nets NBA games when baseball season is done (with a bit of overlap), and has even branched out to airing replays of English Premier League soccer matches. In years past, the latter was confined to the occasional Arsenal match. But owing to Yankees ownership partnering with Manchester City for MLS expansion team NYCFC, YES now airs replays of Man City games, both Premier League and Champions League, in addition to team-focused programming from Man City's own dedicated network in the UK. The channel also has "filler" shows such as Running as well as a live radio simulcast, formerly Mike & the Mad Dog (later just Mike Francesca) and now Michael Kay. In 2014, Fox acquired a majority stake in YES Network, acquired broadcast rights to the partially Yankees-owned New York City FC, and became the new FSN affiliate for the NYC/Tri-State metro area (that was previously MSG Plus, which was once FSN New York).
- The TV Guide Channel/Network, which started its life as the Prevue Channel, formerly existed as a channel which was half-devoted to 'barker' ads for cable movies and shows, with the bottom half devoted to an endless roll of a cable provider's TV listings. Over the years smaller things such as local weather and news headlines, along with junket interviews by the channel's movie 'critic' were added to the loop, until TV Guide's parent purchased it in 1998. From here, original programming was further added until digital cable, which provided programming listings with the boxes, came into vogue. Soon, the programming on top became more like that of Entertainment Tonight, and eventually the network attempted to kill E's red carpet coverage monopoly by hiring Joan Rivers, to little success. By 2009 and the digital transition, it was becoming clear that the future of cable and satellite would be electronic listings, so the channel began a slow phase-out of the listings roll. From there, corporate upheaval among the TV Guide properties left the TV Guide Network in the hands of Lionsgate, which finished off the promotional original programming altogether and turned the network into a rerun/movie farm until 2013, when CBS purchased it, added Big Brother After Dark, along with The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful same-day repeats in place of the dying Soapnet, and launched an HD version of the channel without any listings infrastructure at all.
- In 2015, the channel was relaunched as "Pop", abandoning it's original format for good.
- When Pittsburgh's local PBS note station WQED-13 first bought the former WENS-16 in 1959, it established a sister station, WQEX, in order to showcase educational programming it couldn't fit on the main channel. Then in the 1980's, after the original broadcast tower breaking necessitated a switch to colornote , WQED began running WQEX as its own station, showing imported British Sitcoms, reruns of old PBS shows such as Masterpiece Theatre, Movies, as well as Local oriented programming. The station became popular for this programming as well as its nightly sign-off, which featured "credits" that donors could have their name listed in. But during the 1990s, as the costs of writing original content, getting rights to broadcast the imports, and broadcasting increased, the station began to switch to a simulcast of WQED, save for some programming in the evening. As the new millennium dawned, WQED began having financial issues after the end of their old original show, Mister Rogers' Neighborhood, leasing out the station to the Home Shopping Network, then ShopNBC while looking for a permanent buyer; this is usually verboten for a public television operation since most use non-commercial television licenses, but since WQEX still retained a commercial license, was perfectly legal to do. The station was finally sold to Ion Media Networks, (which had been waiting for years to get a Pittsburgh station; a previous 1999 deal to acquire another station and swap the WQEX license with another religious broadcaster who could use it under that definition was shot down by the FCC), and became WINP in 2010.
- GSN, originally called the Game Show Network, has had an on-again, off-again relationship with 1950s through 1980s classic game shows. At one time it wasn't unusual to find the likes of the black and white episodes of What's My Line? and To Tell the Truth filling up a programming block known as "Black and White Overnight," and reruns of the CBS Password and the original ABC version of Family Feud with Richard Dawson as host. When GSN lost the rights to many of those shows, older games were banished, and classic game show fans refer to this as "The Dark Period". When the network got a new management team, GSN brought the older shows back and even added few, like reruns of the Peter Marshall version of The Hollywood Squares and the original version of Press Your Luck. In addition, the network began concentrating on its own first run shows like Lingo and Whammy, in an effort to pull in younger demographics. While it's still not unusual for the network to remake game shows, older fare like the original The Hollywood Squares has become rare again. Still, Match Game reruns from the series' 1973–81 run have managed to remain a staple of the network. (Note that it's not unusual for fledgling cable networks to fill up their schedules with old movies or reruns of old TV shows, as they build a network and find ways to attract younger, 18-34 demographics. Even Comedy Central once reran ancient 1950s series featuring the likes of Steve Allen and Spike Jones as they built a network with first run fare like Mystery Science Theater 3000.)
Of course, it still had a couple more missteps along the way as it got overrun with poker tournaments and reality shows on game show hosts in the late 2000s. Eventually these all but vanished and it started to focus on original programming once more with shows like The Chase, Minute to Win It, The American Bible Challenge, and Idiotest. Of course, the channel tends to be filled with reruns of Steve Harvey's Family Feud and moves the reruns of classic game shows to the early mornings, but game shows are still its primary focus.
- Discovery Kids, an outgrowth of the Discovery Channel which showed mostly educational programming similar to the fields of the parent channel, was replaced by The Hub, a channel backed by Hasbro which focuses on the company's Merchandise-Driven franchises. Perhaps it was for the best, as many of the new shows have attracted considerable acclaim. Out of international versions, only the Latin American remains: the UK version was replaced with Discovery Turbo (cars, bikes, boats, and planes), and the Canadian version was replaced on most providers by Nickelodeon (it is legally a separate channel, but the channel allotments were re-used on most providers). Strangely, shortly after the American version of Discovery Kids was replaced by The Hub, they launched an Asian feed of Discovery Kids. Carrying gems such as Wild Kratts, FETCH! with Ruff Ruffman, and Peep And The Big Wide World, the Asia feed is still alive and well today.
- Only four years and three days after the birth of The Hub, the hammer came down again. In July 2014, The Hub's president Margaret Loesch disclosed plans to step down by the end of the year. In September 2014, Discovery then announced that it would increase its stake in the network to 60% from 50, replace Loesch with Henry Schleiff (who leads some of Discovery's other digital networks), and re-brand it as Discovery Family in October 2014. Although Hasbro still has partial control over the network's programming (specifically daytime shows, meaning that The Hub's original programs still have a home), the primetime entertainment programming was thrown out the window and turned into a family-friendly permutation of Discovery Channel shows that have already been treated with blatant adoration. Oddly enough, this shift almost brings it back in line with Discovery Kids' original format, except that, as of its launch, it uses reruns of shows from the actual Discovery Channel and still shows general kids' fare. Most of the viewers even state that if you live in the Pacific Time Zone (Due to the channel only running in Eastern Time), you best be early to watch the shows there before 2 pm, or you'll be screwed, lest you you have a DVR to record the morning shows. Many feel the whole thing is bittersweet, because after Littlest Pet Shop was axed after four seasons, My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic and Transformers Rescue Bots are the only original offerings on the network.