Korra Kicks Animated Butt

Following yesterday’s post about the new animated series with a strong female heroine, Nickelodeon’s press release (spotted on FutonCritic.com) highlights some of the key reasons this series found success straight out of the gate.

DEBUT OF NICKELODEON’S “THE LEGEND OF KORRA” DRAWS 4.5 MILLION VIEWERS, RANKS AS BASIC CABLE’S NUMBER-ONE KIDS’ SHOW AND THE TOP ANIMATED SERIES FOR THE WEEK

NEW YORK – April 17, 2012 – Nickelodeon’s highly anticipated premiere of The Legend of Korra (Saturday, April 14, 11a.m. ET/PT), scored a strong 4.5 million total viewers, ranking as basic cable’s number-one kids’ show and top animated program for the week with total viewers. The series, which continues the mythology of the beloved animated franchise Avatar: The Last Airbender, also posted double and triple-digit increases across all kid and tween demos, averaging a 5.7/1.2 million K6-11 (+36%), 6.3/1.3 million T9-14 (+125%) and 5.5/1.9 million K2-11 (+17%). The Legend of Korra also ranks as the network’s most-watched animated series premiere in three years.

This past February, Nickelodeon created “Korra Nation,” an online program for The Legend of Korra superfans clamoring for details and new fans just discovering the property. There was a 750% increase in daily social chatter over the first seven weeks since launch, and the series peaked at 2.2 million mentions on March 24, earning more chatter than the season premiere of Mad Men, according to SocialRadar. The first episode of the series was featured on iTunes, Xbox, Playstation, Amazon, VOD and Vudu in advance of its on-air premiere, and was downloaded and streamed more than 500,000 times. The Legend of Korra has been the number-one kids’ TV season for the past 10 days, and has been in the top ten TV season list on all of iTunes.

The “cultural zeitgeist” for heroines and the existing fanbase for the original Avatar: The Last Airbender television show have helped. I also see a pattern emerging:

  • Myth – Whether it’s Star Wars, The Hunger Games, or Avatar/Korra, they all have myth at their core.
  • Awareness – As discussed in my post last week, The Hunger Games has forged new ground in marketing the product to the masses. The “Korra Nation” strategy follows a similar path, using superfans and social media to spread the word. Of the Star Wars properties, The Clone Wars animated series has been the most forward-thinking in using awareness saturation techniques. The sheer size and scope of the Star Wars franchise, though, probably has limited its ability to embed itself in fansites or to utilize superfans the way the hungrier, smaller franchises have.
  • Appeal – Based on the recent trends with book sales and box office statistics, plenty of evidence now indicates that a franchise can’t be truly successful by appealing to just the boys/men or the girls/women. When television shows like The Big Bang Theory, which already had become a hit when it focused on four male geeks and their pretty-but-not-so-smart neighbor, gain even more popularity after adding smart geeky female characters to the mix, it turns the old school industry thinking on its head. My nephews, who are big The Clone Wars fans, had already discovered The Legend of Korra before I even had the chance to suggest it – and they like it. This same cross-gender appeal is evident in the success of The Hunger Games, as noted yesterday by Fred Salmon of WhatCulture! (spotted by Parker Publicity). And as I’ve blogged about extensively previously, everything I have experienced as a long-time Star Wars fan makes me a firm believer that its appeal to women was a bigger key to its success than the franchise had understood until recently.

That’s my takeaway from the zeitgeist. Here’s hoping more decision-makers come to the same conclusion.

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