Exclusive: Fox Scrapping Animation Domination HD Saturday Block

Fox is taking its underperforming Animation Domination HD programming block off the air Saturday nights. Its last night will be June 28. No replacement has been announced for the Saturday 11 p.m. (ET) hour, though it’s likely that repeats will, for the time being, fill the slot.

Sunday’s popular primetime Animation Domination block, which features The Simpsons, Family Guy and other cartoon standouts, is staying put.

The Animation Domination High Def (ADHD) brand will continue on digital platforms, including FoxADHD.com. New programs will be hatched as part of the brand with hopes that they’ll graduate to primetime, says a Fox representative, and two that were "incubated" in ADHD will air in prime next year. The Fox rep stressed that late night was never designed as the ultimate destination for ADHD content. 

The young male skewing Saturday block debuted last year with a quartet of 15-minute series. The network describes ADHD as “alternative animated series, shorts and user-adapted material.”

Fox executives mentioned the move at an affiliates body meeting in Las Vegas April 8. The topic came up when an affiliate brought up a perceived dichotomy between Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and the decidedly less cerebral late Saturday block, which at times elicits calls from viewers who feel the content is too risqué. That prompted a network exec to say the Saturday block would be going away.

College football games that go long on Fox Saturday nights were a factor in the decision to take ADHD off the air, according to the Fox representative, as well as the 18-34-targeted block not ideally matching up with Fox’s older late night demos.

Decency watchdogs are no fan of ADHD. On April 16, the Parents Television Council called on Fox to take down an ADHD promotional video, called “Easter Bunny’s Coming”, that the PTC called “the most explicit material we’ve ever seen produced by a broadcast television network.”

Citing Fox’s request that affiliates not speak with the media on the meeting’s contents, station leaders were reluctant to speak on the record, though they did not appear sorry to see the ADHD program block go. Some had tired of fielding calls from upset viewers. One said the decision to scrap it might affect the revenue equation in the larger markets, but would not move the needle in his DMA.

“It’s too late on Saturday to generate big bucks,” he said.

Michael Malone

Michael Malone, senior content producer at B+C/Multichannel News, covers network programming, including entertainment, news and sports on broadcast, cable and streaming; and local broadcast television. He hosts the podcasts Busted Pilot, about what’s new in television, and Series Business, a chat with the creator of a new program, and writes the column “The Watchman.” He joined B+C in 2005. His journalism has also appeared in The New York Times, The Philadelphia Inquirer, Playboy and New York magazine.