The long awaited premiere of the latest animated series based on the DC Comics universe, Young Justice, has been met with abnormally high approval after the early debut of the series’ one hour pilot. The show has not only been praised for its exceptionally high animation quality and accessibility for non-super hero fans, but has also delivered extraordinary ratings for Cartoon Network in the United States.
While a warm reception for the series was largely expected, given the involvement of Greg Weisman (Gargoyles, The Spectacular Spider-Man) and Brandon Vietti (Batman: Under The Red Hood), Young Justice was able to procure 2.5 million viewers, which came as a very pleasant surprise.
Among key programming highlights for the month, a one-hour special event presentation Young Justice (Friday, Nov. 26, 7-8 p.m.) scored significant gains compared to the same time period last year, particularly among older boys and teens. Boys 6-11 delivery (541,000) advanced by 15% and ratings (4.3) by 16%, and boys 9-14 delivery (466,000) advanced by 86% and ratings (2.6) by 85%. Kids 9-14 delivery (636,000) advanced by 70% and ratings (2.6) by 73%, while teens 12-17 delivery (463,000) advanced by 209% and ratings (1.9) by 217%. Young Justice also attracted more than 2,547,0000 viewers 2+, a dramatic 36% increase compared to the 2009 time period. Importantly, all kids and boys ratings and delivery grew by double digits from the first half-hour of the telecast to the second—including kids 6-11 delivery (716,000) by 16%, kids 2-11 delivery (969,000) by 13%, kids 9-14 delivery (636,000) by 13%.
In addition to exceptional animation quality and a sharply written script with many tantalizing allusions to story and character arcs to come, Young Justice has been noted for its TV-PG rating, a rarity among action cartoons. While it is unlikely we will see excessive bloodshed, the stronger rating has already allowed the creative staff to avoid most of the unfortunate censorship that has traditionally restrained super hero cartoons. Brutal punches connect in full view, bizarre experimentation and mutation are prominent, and innocent bystanders are not necessarily saved in the nick of time.
Young Justice’s amazing performance paints a stark contrast to Marvel’s historical revisionist project, Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, which has apparently been doing poorly enough on Disney XD to be demoted from its prime time Wednesday evening time slot to Sunday morning airings.
Despite the early debut, the series’ actual run is not scheduled to start until January. The wait will likely be even longer for Canadian TV viewers, as no network has licensed the series for broadcast yet. Given that most audiences probably won’t exercise such a degree of patience, it is unlikely that ratings for the Canadian debut will be quite as impressive.