Do you remember the good old days of Jetix? Yes, it is now a decade since the show was closed, but I still have memories of the show. Earlier today, I bumped into this 150 Seconds of Jetix Nostalgia on YouTube. This video is awesome because it’s like watching an entirely different generation’s nostalgia documentary while simultaneously being the nostalgia of my generation. Still, a part of it I never experienced.
And honestly, I had goosebumps watching the entire 150 seconds of the video. It gave me a strong nostalgic feeling that I could not avoid but write about the Jetix show. I understand; we all have mixed feelings about Jetix since some of us were pissed because it replaced the Toon Disney show. Sure, I was also a little bitter. But with time, the Jetix selections of the cartoon became better.
I remember vividly being so devastated when Jetix replaced Disney Channel. My teen self cursed the name of the corporate mouse. But since I had no choice, Jetix slowly became my childhood. It is all I could watch at the time. I miss it dearly, and it is one of the shows that made me distrust Disney at some point. But that is a story for another day.
Jetix as a show was so lit. Each show had an epic storyline and filled me with an adrenaline rush. Sometimes I imagine if they added a Jetix section on Disney + similar to Marvel and Star Wars section. Maybe that is how they could get anime on Disney+ to continue to rule the cartoon industry.
Both the American and European versions were excellent. Jetix was the reason all Eastern Europe got hooked up on anime. Jetix was the peak of TV. It had almost all my favorite shows at the time. Jetix America was cool. I was a teen at the time. I remember I was shocked to find out it was a whole channel when it was just a segment/block for us. DIGIMON: Frontier, Power Ranger: Dinothurnder, WITCH, and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! were my favorite shows of the Jetix segment.
The different Power Rangers shows, Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go, Yin-Yang-Yo, Pucca, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 2003, and the 1994 Spider-Man animated series are the shows I remember watching the most.
Looking back at the Jetix block and why we loved it!
Image Courtesy: Pinterest.com
When most people think of Disney, they imagine a sense of wonder, magic, and fairy tales that end happily ever after. But if you’re like me, you think of a creatively bankrupt company and growing far too powerful. What most people don’t think of is action-adventure TV shows produced mainly in different parts of the world and influenced by Asian culture. That is why they group this programming under the banner of JETIX.
I vividly remember watching Jetix growing up, and to the extent of my knowledge, it was a popular block that aired on Toon Disney and ABC Family. However, after my deeper research this week, I discovered that it was much more than that.
Let us take a nostalgic trip back to the 2000s when Jetix was at its prime. Let us visit the world of JETIX. The story of Jetix begins with some confusing corporate complications. From the late 90s into the early 2000s, shows influenced by and imported from East Asia were among the most popular programming available to kids. It was different, which is why I guess it was the cool thing to watch. When properties like Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh, and Dragon Ball were defining the zeitgeist, it only made sense that other companies would want their slice of the pie.
It was also during this time that the House of Mouse, a.k.a. The Walt Disney, was on the tail end of its renaissance and booming from the expansion of its film and TV operations. Not to be confused with the relatively recent acquisition of the 21st Century Fox, Disney purchased Fox Family Worldwide in October 2001 for 5.3 Billion dollars. This sale included things like the Fox Family channel, which Disney rebranded into ABC Family, took control of the international Fox Kids channels. The incredibly lucrative Saban Entertainment library, which had 6,500 episodes of kids programming and the rights to franchises like Power rangers.
Also included was majority ownership of Fox kids Europe which was independently based in the Netherlands and managed Fox Kids channel feeds across Europe and the Middle East. The Fox Kids block in America was later taken over by Fox Kids entertainment as FoxBox and 4Kids TV.
With the newly acquired bundle of broadcast rights and a library of shows, Disney created a brand new action block for ABC Family as a place to put that stuff. But it lacked any sort of unique presentation or identity. Internationally, the Fox Kids continued to stay intact for a few years, although it had to change because it was no longer affiliated with Fox.
In January 2004, the ABC Cable Networks Group, Fox Kids Europe, and Fox Kids Latin America, Teamed up Avenger—style to create Jetix. While Toon Disney was often looked at as an answer to Cartoon Network, some considered this movie to answer Toonami.
According to the initial press release, the name Jetix was developed to find a word that implies action and adventure and yet could be used in several international markets without being a proper name for something else.
Jetix first launched as a block in America on February 14th, Valentine’s Day of 2004. In the beginning, you could find it on ABC Family every morning at 7 am EST and every night at Toon Disney except Fridays. The original lineups consisted of shows like The Legend of Tarzan, Power Rangers: Dino Thunder, DIGIMON, and Beyblade: V-Force.
After watching, you’d hop online and select cards from your deck to play. The users with the highest score each round would have their name show up on Jetix every week. With the popularity of trading card games like Pokémon and Magic: The Gathering, this seemed like a cool way to introduce new viewers, but it also looked familiar to the viewers.
The look of Jetix was anchored in a blue-tinted CGI environment commonly referred to as “The World of Jetix.” This world was shown at times to have many different set pieces, but most promos and bumpers took place in a city with wonky skyscrapers and twisted reads. This branding was led by a morphing metallic mascot named Jay, who viewers commonly knew as the Jetix cat of the one-eyed pointy metal thing! Maybe it is because both were shape-shifting CGI silver objects, but in my teen mind, I usually often confused Jay from Jetix with FLUDD from Super Mario Sunshine. I don’t remember who I compared the two because I don’t see the comparison now!
Jay would transform into various entities like a rocketship, a dinosaur, and even a water pumping device. Although the Jetix visual design was pretty simple, it did an excellent job of accomplishing what It was set up to do. It gives viewers a taste of the fast-paced, high-energy programming that the brand would be eventually known.
Jetix USA Programming.
Speaking of which, let us look at the programming you could find on Jetix in the US. To avoid boring you, I will focus on its most recognizable shows and later get to the international exhibitions.
Image Source: Disney Schedule.
You will find that plenty of Jetix’s shows were imported from Europe, like Oban Star-Racers, WITCH, and Atom. With a pretty good reason. And not because they had a preference for shows with an acronym as their title. For the most part, European cartoons from studios like Moonscoop and SIP animation were a bargain because they could produce episodes for half the cost of American cartoons. And it was way cheaper than sending everything overseas. Jetix had a well-established relationship with Europe; these shows were crafted with American audiences in mind. To not only get the attention of American audiences but also to market them internationally.
And the cherry on top was merchandising. The bulk of the shows were related to action or adventure, lent themselves to products like comics, clothing, accessories, action, figures, Videogames, DVDs, etc. Not to mention, some of the series that were developed for Jetix were derived from existing retail commodities. For example, WITCH was based on a comic series of the same name, while PUCCA was originally a desiring from an online greetings card in South Korea.
This article would be incomplete if I didn’t talk more about the uber-successful behemoth of Power Rangers. Power Rangers: Dino Thunder premiered on the day Jetix launched, which I remember watching, and somehow, its dinosaur—human hybrid villain didn’t give me nightmares.
Spanning multiple new iterations and rerunning older ones under the name Power Rangers: Generations, the mega-franchise called Jetix home for half a decade and was a big draw for people to tune into the block.
The Digimon brand was also a stable of Jetix, again specific to the United States. In addition to airing the original Digimon series, Jetix was the only place you could catch Digimon: Data Squad, with its toys and videogames, made it another hot property. I am sure it was a great show to watch, but I never watched Digimon that much because I always assumed that it was a rip-off of Pokémon.
Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! - Under the name Jetix Animation Concepts, some shows were produced by Jetix and Disney specifically for the brand. The first of the bunch was Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go!, which has a strong Japanese influence. Corey Feldman was voicing one of the robot monkeys and a title I have trouble reciting.
There was Get Ed – A CGI action series about a crime-fighting, genetically modified teen named Ed who was riding a hoverboard Ten years before they become cool.
There was Yin Yang Yo!, which also has a strong Asian influence and a difficult name to pronounce! Having shows heavily inspired by Asian culture and shows like Daingunder and Battle B-daman directly from the region, it was unique to see Jetix breaking boundaries with initiatives like the “Made in Japan-thon,” which offered a glimpse into Japanese life and values for American viewers. It may have been a continuation of a marathon concept from Fox Family, and it may have been a gimmick to promote a new Power Ranger episode featuring their Super Sentai counterparts, but it’s the thought that counts.
With the mix of cheaply licensed, decade-old, and a few new shows (some of which got overambitious with the use of CGI technology), Jetix wasn’t always a consistent source of super quality programs. Sometimes I would deliberately watch a different channel, but it knew I had Jetix fall back on if nothing else was on.
Now, it is time to put a spotlight on the rest of the globe. It wasn’t until I started researching for this article that I discovered how significant the worldwide presence of Jetix was. While it was just a block in the United States, Jetix took an entire channel across many parts of Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, and Latin America.
Image Source: Change.org
Shortly after Jetix launched in 2004 and into 2005, channels fully occupied by Fox Kids were rebranded as Jetix. In regions such as Canada, Australia, and most of Asia where the Fox Kids channel didn’t exist, Jetix again took the form of a block. At one point in time, Jetix reached 289 million households in over 80 countries in 25 languages. So the US was just a tiny fraction of the overall audience.
Jetix’s international programming alliance, most of their original programming stuff, like PUCCA and Get ED was also broadcast on their global affiliate. But there was some evident differences in their selection of licensed shows. The UK version of Jetix had Spies! And Total Drama Island, which I grew up watching on Cartoon Network. In some regions, Jetix aired Pokémon, primarily during the Diamond and Pearl era, and Sonic X.
In at least Brazil, they showed the Fairly odd parents. And also, Jetix feeds throughout Eastern Europe had Lazytown. Besides promotional material, there wasn’t a lot of original content catered for, particularly for international audiences. Still, I was able to find a show called PXG from Jetix in the UK.
PXG covered things like gaming news, reviews, and cheats with a charming, internet-inspired digital aesthetic. Because Jetix was at one point in time the number Kids channel in Europe and the Middle East, it made sense for the brand to expand to new domains. And by new domains, I mean rebranding existing channels.
As if all this extra stuff was not already enough, wait until you see the Jetix Merch they had in Europe. In the United States, at least it was virtually impossible to find any merch that was specifically Jetix-themed. The only piece of Jetix merch I could get my hands on was a promotional sample DVD that came withh the October 2006 issue of sports illustrated kids. It is pretty cool for something that comes with the magazines. It has an entire episode of Yin Yang Yo! Clips and promos from other shows, and Jetix bumpers in between each segment.
But Europe had everything, and it wasn’t difficult to find products representing this brand across the pond.
Remember when print media was a thing?
There were ten versions of a monthly Jetix Magazine running throughout Europe. While primarily focused on covering the Jetix brand, it was an overall lifestyle magazine for kids, so it had competitions, comics, posters, and interactive DVDs.
A series of compilation albums called Jetix Hits was released. Again speaking, as an American living in the 2020s, I have no idea who most of the artists on these CDs are, but there are a few I could recognize, like Kelly Clarkson.
There was a game for the PS2, and Nintendo DS called Jetix Puzzle Buzzle. It is just a poorly reskinned version of an existing game called Eggstreme Mania: Eggstreme Madness. Having observed a few minutes of gameplay, I can already tell that I wouldn’t have any fun playing it! The game had a white ghost thing that looked like a Microsoft Paintbrush graphic design.
There were also plenty of miscellaneous items like Jetix branded marbles in the Netherlands or Jetix postage stamps in Israel, just scratching the surface of their image in other parts of the world. You could see the Jetix logo and some of the characters on display across Dutch Airliners.
Image Source: AirTeamImages
Jetix even had its monster truck! This badass guzzler toured around Europe to help promote Yin Yang Yo! I honestly can’t think of a more ridiculous but appropriate way to excite the brand except for this one moment when the monster truck did a backflip. Things like the monster truck remind me of all the inventive ways Jetix tried to market themselves and interact with their fans.
Regions throughout Europe had the Jetix Kids Awards, which seemed pretty similar to the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards with celebrity musical performances. And continuing a Fox Kids tradition both in the states and internationally, Jetix hosted a soccer tournament called the Jetix Kids Cup to promote fair play and cultural exchange.
During the global rise of Jetix, the internet quickly became a popular way for fans to engage with their favorite shows beyond the TV. So, Jetix hopped on this trend by making their website an interactive hub for viewers. They had schedules, individual pages for each show, and of course, a selection of fun 3D groove and Flash games to play.
In the present, these games are noticeably dated and clunky, but some of them are still enjoyable and good for what they are. In contrast to this piece of junk, the JetiXtreme 3D racing game is a far better representation of the brand. It’s basic, but I love that it takes place within the Jetix environment and manages to incorporate unique elements from the show.
The Rise and Fall of Jetix Cartoon TV
While Jetix blocks in the United States didn’t have awards shows or crazy merchandise, they caught on and performed well in the ratings. Just four months after its launch, the block on Toon Disney expanded by an additional four hours every week after an 83% increase in viewership among boys aged 6 to 11 years old. And after rating boost among that demographic, Jetix once again expanded to be 7 pm to midnight every day of the week.
Onward, the growth of its airtime on Toon Disney snowballed even larger, especially in late 2006 when ABC family dropped Jetix, making it exclusive to Toon Disney. A reason was never explicitly given for why it left ABC Family. Still, it was clear that the channel was moving in a different direction than geared programming to young adults and teen demographic with shows like GREEK and The Secret Life of the American Teenager. This was a move that understandably upset a lot of people because ABC Family was way easier to access than Toon Disney.
For reference, Toon Disney was available in about 46 million households, which considerably dwarfs ABC Family’s 98 million. At least where I was growing up, Toon Disney was only an option in more expensive and premium cable packages, so while I was fortunate enough to have it, most of my friends didn’t. Jetix began to dominate Toon Disney, sometimes making over 70% of their weekly schedule. Looking back at the schedule from back in 2006, you will notice Jetix taking over primetime and night time slots. Traditional Toon Disney shows are relegated primarily to the daytime when kids are at school.
It was common for people to have the opinion that Toon Disney had experienced what is called network decay, also known as channel drift. This is where TV channel moves their programming away from their original niche or concept to widen their audience and increase profits. Oftentimes, the shift is usually towards more sensational lower quality shows.
For instance, TCL was initially known as The Learning Channel. They had educational programs like great books, which you guessed it, is a series about books that great! However, if you switch onto TLC nowadays, you will come across somewhat gimmicky reality shows like Long Island Medium or Dr. Pimple Popper. In the case of Toon Disney, the channel was launched to celebrate the magic of Disney Animation – every day, all day.
Before 2004, Toon Disney was full of classic Disney shows and cartoons from the 80s and 90s, especially the numerous series adapted from the renaissance films or the stuff from Disney Afternoon like Duck Tales and Chip n’ Dale: Rescue Rangers.
By the time Jetix established itself as a powerful fixture on the channel, many classic Disney cartoons had begun to vanish. Everything on the schedule that was not under the Jetix banner consisted of reruns for Disney Channel cartoons that weren’t as dated. Not to mention, Toon Disney began to air shows in a particular category that makes the blood of many animation fans boil.
Jetix Live Action: The fall begins.
In addition to showing live-action movies, the Power Rangers were obviously on Jetix, and we began to see reruns of The Suite Life of Zack and Cody. Alongside that, Jetix announced in early 2008 that they had live-action projects in development like one called “Mongoose and Luther.” I wonder what happened to that idea.
With Jetix’s programming essentially taking over the channel with a minimal but active presence of live-action shows, it is easy to understand why the original toon Disney fans may have felt abandoned. Some viewers also found problems with Jetix picking reruns of shows like Superman: The Animated Series produced by Warner Bros., who was viewed by Disney purists as the evil arch-nemesis. I don’t see what the big deal is, and that’s a petty issue at best.
If I can watch great ‘90s Marvel cartoons with great ‘90s DC cartoons back to back on the same schedule, you can count me in! Because I was only a kid back then when Toon Disney was around and again, most of my friends didn’t have it; I don’t recall talking about the channel or Jetix much compared to Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon. I thought it would be interesting to learn more about what people thought of Jetix while it was still on the air, so I scoured old messageboards and forum sites to gather some information.
Well, Jetix received an equal amount of love and hate from its followers. Yes, some shows did suck. And I must admit I was also not happy when it replaced Toon Disney. But with time, I came to fell in love with the shows. By the year 2006, it was my most favorite block.
Many people compared to Europe, where Jetix was its channel and thought Disney should create a brand new Jetix Channel in the states. But it is just not realistic to start an entirely new channel. Toon Disney was slumping in rating for a long time because it was nothing but classic reruns, and while there’s undoubtedly an audience for that programming, it is not sustainable in the long term. It made the most sense for Jetix to air on their existing, low-maintenance channel, where it boosted ratings exponentially.
But this was the 2000s when internet video was in its relative infancy, and the only popular ways to watch stuff was either catching it on TV or buying it on a DVD or VHS, which many shows didn’t have.
Trends come and go, a new concept is being created, and it's not good for things to remain the same forever. As much as Jetix closed, I wish it can be revived with the new generation in mind. I used to be upset with channel changing, but I think Jetix ended for the best.
What was your experience with Jetix? Were you one of those rant-posting and hating it, or did you love the show?