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ANN Chat: Chris Nelson, TAN Programming Director (Take II)

by George Phillips,
On December 27th at 9pm EST, Anime News Network held a follow-up chat with The Anime Network's Director of Programming, Chris Nelson. We would like to thank Chris for taking time out of his busy schedule to speak with us. The chat was held at #animenewsnetwork on WorldIRC. Some questions have been rearranged to form general topics. Some questions have been edited for clarity.

Opening Statements

<Cookie3> Anyone who isn't yet familiar with The Anime Network might want to take a moment to check out their recently-redesigned website, located here: http://www.theanimenetwork.com
<Cookie3> We last spoke with Mr. Nelson in August, following the launch of The Anime Network's linear channel. Since then, TAN has expanded into several new markets and added a lot of new programming, new blocks and new features. I'm sure Chris is anxious to talk to us about them.
<Cookie3> Chris, I hear you have some opening remarks you would like to make?
<ChrisNelson> Thanks a lot to Tempest and the Anime News Network crew for setting this up.
<ChrisNelson> Well, first off thanks for logging on tonight.
<ChrisNelson> Cookie made mention of the new website. We're real happy with it, and we're eager to hear from our viewers what they think of it.
<ChrisNelson> We're hoping to make the site a richer, more media filled place to check out what's going on with Anime Network.
<ChrisNelson> There's a section called ANHQ which has some digital omake, and you can also find a lot of downloads, desktop patterns, music, video etc. It's pretty bandwidth heavy, though...
<ChrisNelson> inside ANHQ, there is a section called ANHQ.jp which features some images from tokyo...keep checking for some cool new video and audio of tokyo streets as well.


<Tempest> (from Hinata_Hyuuga): What is the likelihood of getting TAN on DirecTV?
<Tempest> (from ASHTAR): Any word on dish network getting the anime channel?
<ChrisNelson> We're in the midst of advance negotiations with ALL of the cable and satellite providers, including DISH and DirecTV. The best way for individual subscribers to help hasten along that process is to call their cable or satellite provider, and let them know that they want Anime Network added to their cable systems.
<ChrisNelson> On the website, there is a form to fill out, which can send a request directly to your cable or satellite provider. We've had tens of thousands of fans fill this out already, and it's one of the only ways to let the cable and satellite systems know that their customers want Anime Network on the air.
<ChrisNelson> Other than that, I can't comment more specifically, except to say that we want to be on DirecTV, DISH, Charter and all of the rest of the systems in North America!


<Tempest> (from DBZTalkHoltz): What is TAN's policy in regards to editing of series?
<ChrisNelson> Our policy is to be as respectful as possible to the original anime.
<ChrisNelson> As of now, we've done almost NO editing for content or time.
<ChrisNelson> There are some series we have in the pipeline which will require some careful attention. One thing that we will be sure of, is that if we have to perform a content edit, we will make that clear in our presentation of the show, placing a "this show has been (slightly) edited for content" label at the beginning of the series.
<ChrisNelson> As a digital cable channel, we've got a lot more leeway than a lot of programmers, and we're going to try and air the vast majority of our content unedited.

<Tempest> <Mesogog> What content to do you look for in Anime shows to leave out for the linear channel?
<ChrisNelson> We don't look for content to leave out...but we evaluate programs which contain excessive language, sexuality, "mature situations." Again, our preference is to always air programs as they were made or as close to it as possible.

<Tempest> <from Cookie> Are the linear channel and Video On Demand treated differently with respect to editing?
<ChrisNelson> As of now, it's remarkably similar. Since we don't cut up our programs to shreds for the linear channel, we don't have to go back and "fix" our versions for VOD.
<ChrisNelson> We respect the rights of grown American's to make informed choices about their entertainment. Anime Network is not a children's channel, and won't be programmed like one.

<Tempest> <From Balboa369> Will Gantz be aired on TAN and if so will it be the uncut DVD version or the edited version that aired on television in Japan?
<ChrisNelson> Gantz will be aired on The Anime Network.
<ChrisNelson> That one is definitely going to push some boundaries : )
<ChrisNelson> I believe as of now, our intention is to air the Japanese television version, reserving the full uncut version for Home Video.
<ChrisNelson> But, the Japanese television version is still quite intense, and we will likely choose to air it in a late night slot.

Japanese-language Programming

<Tempest> <from DragonsRevenge> Probability of a subtitled block?
<Tempest> <ChibiGoku> Question. How are they broadcasted? Dual Language?
<Tempest> <ZeroKun> I'd like to know if they ever plan on getting raw content
<ChrisNelson> I thought I might get a question or two about subtitles...
<ChrisNelson> I'm pleased to announce tonight that Anime Network is introducing a new block of subtitled programming.
<ChrisNelson> It's slated to start airing on Saturday Feb. 12 at noon, with an encore presentation Sunday the 13th at 10 PM.
<ChrisNelson> Our subtitled fans have made their voices heard. One thing that I hope separates Anime Network from other channels is that we care what our viewers have to say, and actually listen to their requests.
<ChrisNelson> Most of our viewers continue to voice a preference for dubbed anime, but we have also heard from a number of devoted subtitled fans, so we're going to start up a subtitled block, and see what kind of response it gets from the viewers.

<Tempest> (From DragonsRevenge) what are you going to be showing on [the subtitled block]?
<ChrisNelson> We're going to be showing New Fist of the North Star as the first subtitled offering on the network, and then I think we're going to give Japanese language Evangelion fans something to watch...

<Tempest> (From Anonymous #1) I'd like to know what language shows that ADV licensed specifically for TAN are going to air in.
<ChrisNelson> Anime Network remains an overwhelming English language based television network. With our new subtitled block, we're going to mix things up a bit, but that doesn't mean we're going to become a Japanese language based channel.

<Tempest> (From Anonymous #2) Knowing that TAN is operated by ADV, if the network were to run shows like Super Milk-chan (or other future shows) which have an "original" version and a heavily altered version slanted towards the American audience, what would be the programming decision made?
<ChrisNelson> Re: shows like Super Milk-chan, and any others, Anime Network would make a decision based on what we thought would perform the best on our network, with our viewers. At the end of the day, we would air the version that we thought worked the best.

TAN "Fanservice" Block

<ChrisNelson> Fan Service is a block we've designed to let the viewers vote on what show they want to see during a particular time slot.
<ChrisNelson> In the future, we might open that up to voting via theanimenetwork.com as to what shows, and what language people want to watch.
<Cookie3> With the new look of the TAN website, there are also some new spots available. The first one is entitled "Fan Service", which is the lead-in to the Fan Service block Chris just mentioned.
<Cookie3> Quicktime: http://www.theanimenetwork.com/spots/fanservice.mov
<Cookie3> Windows Media Video: http://www.theanimenetwork.com/spots/fanservice.wmv
<ChrisNelson> I recently got a chance to go to tokyo for the first time. It's simply remarkable...
<ChrisNelson> while there, I captured a lot of digital stills and video.
<ChrisNelson> Some of those still we're deconstructed to form the images in the Fan Service open.
<ChrisNelson> Fan Service initially ran on Christmas day, and will air again on New Year's Day. We're hoping to expand upon the concept and bring more viewer choice to The Anime Network.

Animax and other competitors

<Tempest> What's going on with Animax, and do you expect to be able to "fight them off?"
<ChrisNelson> I honestly don't know what's going on with Animax. We're thrilled to be available RIGHT NOW in over 12 million households across America. We think that's a pretty good way to start a network dedicated to anime...
<ChrisNelson> We simply want to continue what we're doing, focus on making Anime Network as dynamic and engaging as possible. We've been honored by the response we've gotten, from hundreds of thousands of fans across the country.
<ChrisNelson> Their viewership has helped make Anime Network a breakout success in Video On Demand, and the first and only channel to ever launch linearly from the VOD platform.
<ChrisNelson> We're focused on continuing to bring the best programming that we can to as many viewers as we can, day in and day out. At the end of the day, we believe that Anime Network will continue to be a success.

<Tempest> <JustJon> will ADV continue to show their programs on other channels, like Super Milk-chan on CN?
<ChrisNelson> Good question. I think it's fair to say that ADV has an interest in the continued programming success of Anime Network, but that doesn't necessarily preclude other television deals. That's handled by people other than myself.

Content from other anime companies?

<Tempest> <LuckyAesti> is the anime newtwork still in negotiations with other distrubtors (Bandai, FUNi and Geneon) to show series they have domestic distrubtion?
<ChrisNelson> Yes we are. I've got several meetings scheduled with other distributors to to discuss the airing of their series.
<ChrisNelson> I hope [to make] some sweet new announcements in the upcoming months...but that's all I can say for now.

<Tempest> From SakechanBD, "Will TAN be airing non-Japanese material like Korean series, and American projects like Lady Death?"
<ChrisNelson> Yes. Lady Death has already aired on the network, as has BASToF Syndrome.

<Tempest> <bishiehunterenya> What is the possibility of getting an anime music video block?
<ChrisNelson> We've currently got something we call Ben-To Beat Box, which features J Pop, JRock and JHop music videos.
<ChrisNelson> In terms of the anime music videos that I often see at cons, there are some rights issues involved with airing most that I've seen.
<ChrisNelson> Also, one sweet video on Ben-To Beatbox right now is Boom Boom Satellites theme from Appleseed, which has some very cool footage...

<ChrisNelson> Question? Is there non anime programming that you guys would like to see on the network?
<Tempest> <DragonsRevenge> Spongebob
<Tempest> <ZeroKun> Japanese commercials
<Tempest> <DragonsRevenge> How bout live action series? The PG Sailor Moon, Cutey Honey, etc?
<Tempest> <lupin_the_third> Japanese Dramas
<Tempest> <Hinata_Hyuuga> a news show about upcoming releases
<Tempest> <LuckyAesti> GTO Drama
<Tempest> <Mesogog> Power Rangers!
<Tempest> <Mesogog> Super Sentai!
<ChrisNelson> Cool, good to know. I will keep that in mind.

<Tempest> <Shia> Will the things aired subtitled be available on the Video on Demand section?
<ChrisNelson> I don't know yet. Video On Demand is tricky, because each cable operator has different limitations on the amount of content available. But we will more than likely figure out a way to offer up some subtitled programming and see how it performs.

Original Programming on TAN

<Tempest> <Shinotaku14> Are they planing any original programing Such as "anime theatre 3000" or something where fans joke around about anime etc etc.
<Tempest> And <From Ichido> (edited) Would TAN be interested in reality shows or "anime live shows" and how would one contact TAN about submitting demos ?
<ChrisNelson> Yes, there will be original programming. We've got a few projects already in development, and it's fair to say that we want to incorporate some of the fan culture into our programming.
<ChrisNelson> In terms of submitting demos or requests, the best route is to submit an inquiry to info(at)theanimenetwork.com. Unsolicited demos are a tricky thing however...

How to contact local cable providers

<Tempest> (from DBSTalkHoltz): Are there any departments or people that we should be writing to specifically at the DBS Providers?
<ChrisNelson> If you fill out the form on theanimenetwork.com, it will get to decision makers at the DBS providers. Other than that, call your provider's main #. I know that some of the satellite services have regular forums on programming, you might be able to call in to one of those as well.
<Cookie3> In fact, there's a new spot about that very question. This one's called "Gunslinger", and it shows fans how to contact their cable or satellite provider for The Anime Network:
<Cookie3> Quicktime: http://www.theanimenetwork.com/spots/gunslinger.mov
<Cookie3> Windows Media Video: http://www.theanimenetwork.com/spots/gunslinger.wmv
<ChrisNelson> the goofy dude in the hat is our webmaster, by the way. You can tell him how cute he looks, or give him feedback on the new site @ webmaster (at) theanimenetwork.com...

HD Broadcasts

<Tempest> <from Parak> What kind of plans, if any, do you have for HighDef programming?
<ChrisNelson> We were involved in some of the first Anime in HD experiments on American television almost 2 years ago. We did a deal with INHD and INHD2 to air titles such as Spriggan, You're Under Arrest: The Movie, and a few others that we were able to scan from 35mm. We're going to continue our tradition of being aggressive when it comes to new technology, and as more anime is produced originally in HD, we'll definitely be taking a long look at the best way to bring that to American television viewers.

Closing Statements

<Cookie3> Chris, do you have anything else you'd like to share with us tonight?
<ChrisNelson> I just wanted to thank everyone again for taking the time to chat. One more plug for theanimenetwork.com, please check it out, take a moment to fill out the easy form telling your cable or DBS provider that you would like to add Anime Network to your programming lineup.
<ChrisNelson> Anime Network was founded by people who love anime, and we're proud to be the first channel in North America dedicated to Japanese animation.
<ChrisNelson> We greatly appreciate the support of our viewers and fans. And we want to continue to be in dialog with those fans, on the web, on the air, at the cons...
<ChrisNelson> If you want anime in your homes, 24 hours a day, tell your friends, family, cable operators and pets that "I want ANIME NETWORK 24/7!"
<ChrisNelson> thanks again for all of the questions.

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