Network Decay

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Network decay is a phase when many TV channels stray away from their original purpose.

List of Decayed Channels


  • The most infamous example is MTV, which in its heyday in the 1980s and early 1990s, was almost exclusively devoted to music videos. With the popularity of their original series like The Real World, they gradually showed fewer and fewer music videos until they were nonexistent and they dropped their "Music Television" branding in 2010. They even made fun of it themselves with the tagline "MTV: We Don't Play Music". They started focusing on music again in the late 2010s, though. The channel is now obsessed with the viral video show "Ridiculousness" and air it to the max, in fact, they air "Ridiculousness" so much they can give Cartoon Network from 2014-2017 with "Teen Titans Go!" a run for their money.
    • MTV Classic started its life as VH1 Smooth, a music video channel that played smooth jazz, new age and adult contemporary music. In 1999 the channel changed its name to VH1 Classic Rock, then VH1 Classic. At first VH1 Classic Rock would only play music videos, and later some music-related programming. In 2015, they aired a nineteen-day marathon of Saturday Night Live.
      • In July 2016, VH1 Classic changed its name to MTV Classic. The channel still mostly aired music videos, but sometimes reruns of classic MTV shows. Most of the reruns were later removed, so now MTV Classic almost exclusively airs music videos from the 1980s to 2000s.
    • However, some countries, like the UK, have subchannels which actually show music videos.
  • Logo was originally devoted to LGBT programming, like their famous RuPaul's Drag Race. After Viacom moved that to VH1, it devolved into showing old sitcoms with only a very few episodes having any LGBT themes. However, they still show RuPaul's Drag Race UK.
  • Noggin was co-founded by Nickelodeon and Sesame Workshop in 1999, with the channel devoted to 24/7 educational programming. Most of the brand-new original shows were aimed at tweens, like Sponk! and the award-winning A Walk in Your Shoes. In 2002, the channel launched a nighttime block for teenagers named "The N", and the preschool block grew to take up the daytime lineup. Unfortunately, Sesame Workshop eventually sold its half of Noggin/The N. As a result, old reruns from the Nick Jr. block overtook the entire channel and were aired much more often than the Noggin originals and Sesame Workshop shows. In 2009, the Noggin brand was temporarily shuttered, as it was replaced by a 24-hour channel based on the Nick Jr. block.
    • In 2015, Noggin was relaunched as a paid streaming app that kept the famous "thinking head" logo and brought back the channel's hosts, Moose and Zee. Classic Noggin originals like Oobi, Jack's Big Music Show, Pinky Dinky Doo and The Upside Down Show were all added to the app. Unfortunately, the exact same problem eventually happened with the Noggin app: in 2017, newer shows like Team Umizoomi, Bubble Guppies, PAW Patrol and Blaze and the Monster Machines were added to the app, and in 2019 the app was rebranded with a generic simple logo resembling the current Nickelodeon logo, with "more recognizable" characters from Nick Jr. shows replacing Moose and Zee as the hosts. In 2020, all of the Noggin originals were removed from the app. Now you can only watch the same new Nick Jr. shows that Nickelodeon plays daily, thus making the app a clone of the Nick Jr. app, but with more shows, games and features.
  • The Nick Jr. channel, since its debut in 2009, has been used as a dumping ground for shows with low ratings. It is now obsessed with toyetitic preschool shows (mostly from Canada and CGI-animated) to the point where the only shows that stand out on the entire network are re-runs of older shows.
    • In 2012, they had an awful block called NickMom, which targeted millennial moms. The block was extremely inappropriate, but it did air some original shows. Luckily, the block was canceled in 2015.
  • Nicktoons dropped most of its original Nicktoon programming in 2008 and putted some of them in the graveyard slots, and they also started airing sports content with NickSports in 2014 instead of reviving Nick GAS. The channel occasionally airs Nickelodeon live-action shows and sitcoms, despite the channel's name, and has also been airing SpongeBob SquarePants throughout the night, thus making this channel a clone and a mixture of Nickelodeon and TeenNick.
  • TV Land was launched in following the success of Nick@Nite, airing reruns of classic TV shows. While they still show "The Andy Griffith Show", "Bonanza" and “Gunsmoke", more modern sitcoms (Two and a Half Men, The Goldbergs) have begun airing on the channel.
  • VH1 was launched in 1985 with adult contemporary music videos, later adding shows themed around music from the 1960s and '70s, plus some stand-up comedy. By the end of the '90s it had started airing music-related films and documentary and trivia shows. In the 2000's, however, VH1 turned into a pop culture channel, with reality shows starring D-list celebrities, with music videos playing for a few hours in the morning. In November 2015, VH1 removed its video blocks in favor of sitcom reruns.


  • The Disney Channel was originally all about Walt-era content, aimed at all ages. In the late 2000s, with hits like Hannah Montana, they shifted to the tween demographic (thus earning it the nickname "Tween Disney"). In the late 2010s, they reverted back to targeting families.
  • History was, as its name says, originally devoted to shows about history, mainly World War II (thus earning it the nickname "The Hitler Channel"). In the late 2000s and early 2010s however, much of their content had little to nothing to do with history, such as Pawn Stars and several conspiracy documentaries on ghosts, aliens, Atlantis, etc.
    • The US and UK also has its own spinoff channel named Military History, but even that has some decay with a regular "Demilitarised Zone" block devoted to the things the main channel would usually air. The UK version was later replaced with H2, while the US version is now only available on some low-key cable operators.
  • Freeform had a strange history with its "Family" branding on its older incarnations. Originally launched as the CBN Satellite Service in 1977 by televangelist Pat Robertson, it originally focused on Christian programming with an appeal towards the Bible Belt. In a bid to get itself recognized outside the South, the network rebranded itself as the CBN Family Channel and eventually got spun off into an independent company known as International Family Entertainment after it became too profitable to remain with the tax-exempt ministry, with the name "CBN" dropped and the network becoming just the Family Channel, and dropped much of its Christian programming, though Robertson's The 700 Club remains to this day. Things did not begin to decay until ABC proposed buying the network (then known as Fox Family) and rebranding it as XYZ, with an intention to show various repurposed ABC shows. The XYZ rebranding did not happen (it was rumored that Robertson forced ABC to keep the word "Family" in the network name, though the Freeform rebrand debunked this) and it was stuck with the ABC Family name. This led to the name being inappropriate for the content it broadcasted, which included shows like Greek and Slacker Cats. In 2016, it finally ditched the "Family" name and became Freeform, with a target audience of millennials. However, the 700 Club still airs, not because Freeform wants it to, but because of Pat Robertson. As such, Freeform tries to distance itself from The 700 Club as much as they can.


  • Cartoon Network infamously did this with CN Real. Live-action shows on Cartoon Network obviously went against the channel's purpose, and they drew heavy criticism from fans of the network. Thankfully, CN cancelled all their live-action efforts in 2014 and now the channel is back to animated content. The channel was also obsessed with Johnny Test (until 2014), Teen Titans Go! and The Amazing World of Gumball. By 2018, Johnny Test was long gone from the US schedule, and TTG and TAWOG were given fewer slots in an attempt to bring back variety to the network. However, as of 2020, those two shows still make up two thirds of CN's daytime schedule, with Craig of the Creek only having two hours of airtime, Total DramaRama having an hour of airtime, Victor and Valentino and Apple and Onion only having 30 minutes of airtime each only on weekdays.
  • Boomerang was originally classic cartoons (primarily Hanna-Barbera cartoons and classic Cartoon Network shows) from the 30's to the 80’s, with Pokémon being the most modern series they aired. The channel would also start airing reruns of older Cartoon Network shows. In 2015, the channel completely rebranded to catastrophic results that ended up actually hurting the channel's viewer rate more than ever.
  • The UK Cartoonito has been airing nothing but Fireman Sam in its schedule almost every day, while the Italian Cartoonito has been airing some of the shows from the Nick Jr. Channel and some of the shows from its sister channel, Boing.


  • BBC Four, whose original purpose was documentaries and arts programmes, shifted in the 2010s to a mix-genre channel, the channel original purpose is got gone, however.


  • TLC, whose original purpose was nature and science documentaries, shifted in the late 90s and early 2000s to a reality TV channel, most infamously with Toddlers and Tiaras.
  • Discovery Family has slipped off multiple times throughout its start as Discovery Kids. When it began in 1996, the channel was originally aimed at children, offering edutainment TV programs around nature and science (like TLC). However, by 2003 with the launch of a Saturday morning block on NBC, it began to air animated shows that had little educational content at all, such as Kenny the Shark. In 2008, Hasbro bought the channel and renamed it to The Hub in 2010, with a changed goal to Hasbro-original programming such as G.I. Joe, Transformers, and most notably My Little Pony. Due to the popularity of My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic swallowing up the channel, viewership on other shows began to decrease and in 2014, the channel was rebranded as Discovery Family. Nowadays, it has strayed completely off its educational goal, being limited to animated content aimed for way younger audiences such as My Little Pony, Pac-Man and the Ghostly Adventures, Hanazuki, and True and the Rainbow Kingdom. At night, all the channel airs are reality TV documentaries and cooking shows such as Cake Boss, Winner Cake All, The Lottery Changed My Life, and much other original content from TLC.
    • Same thing can be said for Discovery Kids in Latin America. Ever since 2016, the have aired many shows that don't have much educational value in it (with some exceptions), and they air a lot of Peppa Pig and Mini Beat Power Rockers causing the channel to have very little variety.
  • Planet Green was a channel originally launched for environmental programming in 2008. It slipped away from that in 2009, airing shows about oil drilling and aliens while all the environmental programming was shoved into after-midnight slots. At one point, their logo was red. However, this was for occasions and was rarely seen. On Memorial Day 2012, it was rebranded as Destination America, a channel devoted to the United States. The programming on the first few days had little to do with America, meaning it decayed as soon as it launched.
  • Travel Channel, originally a channel about travel, shifted when Discovery re-acquired it in 2018 turned it to a channel featuring mostly paranormal reality TV shows.


  • 4Music was formerly a British music channel, but it started to focus on entertainment during the 2010s and the channel was moved from the Music section to the Entertainment section; it still airs music in the mornings, though.
  • Every subsidiary of the Japanese Animax network. The original Japanese channel and all its international subsidiaries all began as 24-hour anime channels, but with the exception of the original every channel programming block bearing the brand has experienced some form of decay, from adding K-dramas in the Asian feed, to blatantly reducing anime programming in favor of teenage and young adult oriented non-animated shows in the European, South African and Latin-American feeds, to the point that most international feeds either changed names before eventually being killed under their new identities (the sad fate of the Latin-American, South African, Indian and most European feeds) or reinventing themselves as video-on-demand platforms (what the German feed decided to do).
  • Universal Kids began its life as PBS Kids Sprout, a cable channel that aired pre-school series from PBS Kids, as well as others. When Universal bought the entire network in 2013, they removed the "PBS Kids" name from the channel and in 2017 it was renamed Universal Kids, airing reruns of kids series from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon Prime, acquired programming from other channels like Family Channel/CHRGD and CBeebies, and family-friendly reality shows. By that point, Caillou was the only PBS show still airing on the channel until it was removed in 2019. In June 2019, Universal announced that they would no longer produce new series for the network, so the channel pretty much only airs acquired programming and nothing else.


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