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KidsClick shuts down

Just a few months shy of its second anniversary, Sinclair Broadcast Group’s KidsClick morning programming block is coming to an end. The daily cartoon lineup will air for the last time on Sunday, March 31st. KidsClick launched on July 1, 2017.

While it might seem sudden, the signs were there. Previously, KidsClick was regularly refreshed with new content, but the last new addition was the shortlived run of LEGO Friends: Girls on a Mission back in December. More telling was the lack of social media activity. The block’s official Facebook and Twitter accounts were constantly updated, yet that stopped in February.

That was until they posted this farewell message on Friday:

With a heavy heart, we are writing you to let you know that KidsCLICK is coming to an end this weekend. Thank you for all of your support, comments, shares, likes and more. We will miss each and every one of our fans and don’t forget to Stay TOONed.

– KidsClick on Facebook

A reason for the closure wasn’t shared, though decisions like these are only made when things aren’t working out financially. As of press time, a shutdown date for the KidsClick website and apps weren’t shared.

It’s easy to say the block died because there simply isn’t a market for this kind of programming on broadcast television anymore. Unfortunately, while that may be true, it’s hard not to see KidsClick as a victim of more, beyond even the FCC’s Kidvid regulations and advertising standards.

When the block launched, it was carried nationally on ThisTV and on select Sinclair-operated local stations. While the latter would schedule the shows in timeslots convenient to them (which meant it often wasn’t convenient for viewers), ThisTV provided a standard nation-wide schedule. ThisTV, being one of the first successful over-the-air digital sub-networks, had a wide reach in a lot of big markets. The problem was that Sinclair didn’t own ThisTV. At the time of KidsClick’s launch, the company was in discussions to purchase Tribune Broadcasting, but ultimately that deal would turn into a debacle beyond the scope of this site.

Perhaps foreshadowing the then forthcoming spat between Sinclair and Tribune, KidsClick lost its place on ThisTV last summer, being demoted to Sinclair’s far less distributed TBD sub-channel. While it’s true everything was still available online at no cost, the online components were largely promoted to those already viewing on linear.

One of the issues facing any free kids TV offering in the United States is that there aren’t really any marketable programming libraries available to support them. As part of the ThisTV partnership, KidsClick received content from the MGM library, courtesy of MGM co-owing ThisTV alongside Tribune. While MGM’s portfolio has been able to supply a number of digital sub-channels with content, KidsClick only gained block favorite Pink Panther & Pals and Robo Cop: Alpha Commando as MGM wasn’t a big player in the children’s television space. The companies that own the big libraries with the name shows typically have their own pay TV solutions they’d like you to subscribe to. This meant KidsClick had to actively acquire shows, which meant higher expenses.

The added cost was to the benefit of viewers, though. KidsClick offered a home to foreign shows like Scary Larry and The Legendaries (no matter how short lived), that otherwise would’ve likely never seen the light of day officially in the United States. Not to mention, KidsClick offered a linear home to series like Miraculous: Tales of Ladybug & Cat Noir, Oggy and the Cockroaches, Mecard and more. That wouldn’t have happened if they were just picking shows from a single company’s history.

There were definitely rocky patches with KidsClick. For unexplained reasons, the block never ran shows like Sonic X and Transformers Prime, despite both being seen in pre-launch advertising. At times, KidsClick was plagued with technical issues that would see shows inexplicably repeated, or skipped over in ways that didn’t reflect the schedule. They also kept certain shows, like the 9-episode (that’s including the recycled FMV game footage that encompasses “Search for the 5th Driver”) Team Hot Wheels, a little too long for the liking of some. Yet it still offered something different and the team at Sinclair were always trying despite the obvious uphill battle.

Ultimately, it’s viewers and syndicators who lose out with KidsClick’s demise. Households without cable or high speed internet are again limited to educational content on PBS Kids, as well as the pared down offerings on Qubo and other digital sub-channels like Light TV. It’s a shame that had to happen.

With KidsClick leaving, what were some of your favorite moments in the block’s history? Do you think we’ll see another attempt at this again? Leave a comment down below.

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