So NuRiD was renewed. We knew this was coming. It's not a surprise. But what was a surprise, was the announcement that the second season is shortened to just 19 episodes. Does that mean that there's no third season... No idea. We'll know more when the time comes. But right now, that's how it's seeming. Now there's probably multiple reasons for this beyond the usual “Hasbro sucks” or “bad ratings” or whatever. Let's be honest, the show's a decent show. Actually it's quite fun, though I felt that season finale left me feeling a little dry. But that show has had difficulty since before it aired an episode. Let's go through them a bit... And remember, this is just the late night ramblings of a 30+ year fan, and not meant to be taken as gospel.
TONE: The typical kneejerk reaction I've heard from people is “If it was more like Transformers: Prime, it would be doing better!” That's not true. What is easily forgotten, especially in the wake of how good Season Three of TF: Prime was is that the show almost didn't get a third season. The ratings for Season Two just were not that good, and that's why instead of canceling it, it got a truncated third season. Albeit, a very good third season. The ratings just were not there. (And honestly, I blame it on how horribly the pacing was in Season Two of Prime. I still say you could have edited out over half of that entire season.) However, you know where the ratings were? Rescue Bots. Which is now posed to become the longest running TF show ever. The “arc driven darker show” got mild ratings and the “lighthearted fun show” got great ratings. If you're a producer... What does that tell you how you should proceed forward? We can armchair quarterback these shows all we want... But remember these are still the same guys who gave us the previous show. Same producers, same writers, same animation studio... It would have been really easy to just make “season four”. They felt they had good enough reasons to change the tone of the show. Now good or bad, that's up to you.
LACK OF HYPE: TF: Prime's debut came in the wake of Revenge of the Fallen. And whether you like that movie or not, it made a crapload of money... And made it domestically. The Transformers type machine was going strong and it was building higher with the forthcoming Dark of the Moon. And as Transformers Hype was eventually supplanted by Avengers Hype, the franchise was not able to rebuild that momentum again. Age of Extinction In China, did great. Domestically? Not so much. It had the lowest returns of any TF movies domestically. (Internationally is another story.) And Robots in Disguise came in on that small wake. They were banking on people loving the Dinobots with them being the big hit that summer. But in the end, people were more excited about a talking tree and a raccoon with a machine gun. (Sure the TF comics are better than ever now. But does that translate into television viewership? I don't really know or think so.)
NETWORK: Look, this show was designed to air on the Hub. That's all there is. It lost it network and had to settle for being on Cartoon Network on the dreaded 6:30 AM slot. That's not CN's fault entirely. CN's been dealing with rebuilding the mess that the former CEO made of the place for a while now. They're on their way, but it's still a long climb back. Not to mention, just about ALL of CN's licensed shows are stuck in those early morning slots. Now if they stayed on CN, it'd be secure. After all, Poke'Mon and Ninjago has been there for years now, and never been canceled. In the end, It's a toy commercial. As long as the product sells enough to justify the cartoons existence, it'll keep going. But the second it doesn't, then it's gotta change or go. It's like Alchemy's laws of Equivalent Exchange... But you know... With toys. There'll always be Transformers around so the show could always be around. But the problem with being on CN is that it can never be more than what it is now. CN can't promote it more than they are and can't give it a better timeslot, because of the way their shows are set up now. (They've all got that 11 minute long episode format for most of their original shows now.) So even before they went to CN, NuRid was automatically designated to it's 6:30 am slot. This is probably one of the reasons they're shopping it around for a new home. More on this in a moment.
TOY SUPPORT: Yikes, this is the big problem. After Revenge of the Fallen, there were tons of toys out, and they were all quite affordable. It was arguably an ideal era that sadly had to end. After Dark of the Moon, the toys priced jacked up like crazy and the quality control of them fell... And TF: Prime was the first line to feel it. Actually ALL toylines had been feeling it for a while and TFs held out for quite some time. It's not like how it was even five years ago, with the cost of productions in constant flux like they are. Us older fans? When we were younger, a Deluxe sized guy was $10 and not a problem to buy on a whim. I have a bunch of toys from Revenge of the Fallen. Hell, I have Mudflap and Skids and they're kind of pieces of of crap, but I got them! I honestly think $10 is that perfect “buy on a whim” cost and anything higher is less likely to be bought. Us older fans... We got Generations, Masterpieces and Combiner Wars. And for us IDW fans, we can be sold on spending $15 on a Windblade toy or $45 for a Megatron that comes with an Autobot sticker. Really, we're not going anywhere. We've seen this franchise through worse. But for that middle demographic audience, that new generation of fans coming off Rescue Bots, but who isn't quite yet ready for bigger toys... How do you convince them to buy a $15 toy that really is not much more than an accessory for a mobile scanning game? I don't think it's an accident that there's a severe lack of toys to buy this time around. I mean, there's not even a glut of Bumblebees! Hasbro does need to rethink the franchise to accommodate the rising costs... Because what they're doing doesn't seem to be working.
So we have a show where the franchise isn't at it's peak, the network was probably chosen as a last resort and the toys are still being sorted out. It sounds like a giant mess. Honestly, I would not be surprised if they're pushing to wrap up the series here to start anew, with things better planned out. Sometimes, you just gotta cut your losses and rethink things. Wouldn't be the first time this has happened before and it wouldn't be the last.
So, what now?
Well, right off the bat, let's get this out there. There's no danger of Transformers joining G.I. Joe and fading away. Despite the lack of domestic sales, AoE made a billion dollars internationally. Those movies make enough money to pretty much guarantee that the toys, cartons and comics will be made for quite a long time. And they're talking about TF movies all the way into the middle of next decade. Transformers is safe.
But what about NuRiD? We can pretty much cross out going back to Discovery Family. We can cross out any major television networks, as they no longer have Saturday morning cartoons anymore. And it's gotta be a network that'll be willing to work with the toy company. So that leaves really four networks. Nickelodeon, Disney XD, Cartoon Network and Netflix. As much as they're shopping it around, CN could still happen. CN may offer a better timeslot. (After all, going to CN always felt more like a quick moment of desperation than something planned out.) But as I mentioned before, it can never be more than what it is now. Nickelodeon is probably unlikely, as they have a history of too many restrictions on licensed shows they don't own. Disney XD is a strong possibility, as Disney has an amazing relationship with Hasbro. Not only does Hasbro make the Star Wars and Marvel toys (all owned by Disney) they also make most of their Disney toys as well. So that wouldn't surprise me if the second season popped up on Disney XD. (Also, it'd be kind of fitting as Disney has the U.S. rights to the OTHER Robots in Disguise show.) And then there's Netflix, who if I was a betting man, I'd place my money on. A lot of cartoons have been making the jump to Netflix with original shows and material. And really, that's where a lot of kids are watching their 'toons these days.
Will it get a third season? I don't know. I hope so, as I like the show a lot. But in the end, it's going to have 45 episodes. That's not that bad really. That's only slightly less than Beast Wars had and more than Beast Machines, RiD 2001, and TF: Animated had. Not to mention, not counting clip shows, that's more than almost all the Japanese TF shows got per series. (Unicron Trilogy aside.) The show has been plagued with a lot of problems that weren't of it's own making. So I hope it finds a good and stable home soon and I hope it gets a third season. (And if not... I hope the next series goes more smoothly.)