‘Legend Of Korra’ Move To Digital Surprised And Upset Creators

Nickelodeon’s decision to pull The Legend of Korra from TV and make it only available through digital channels was a pre-San Diego Comic-Con 2014 surprise. Even show creators Mike DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko appeared taken aback, but explained the reasons behind the move during a Comic-Con panel on Friday.

The topic of Korra’s shift to digital was obviously the hot topic among fans at the Comic-Con panel, so it was the first topic addressed (via io9 and Zap2It). The reason behind the move isn’t just because the show’s rating have done poorly on TV, but also because it has done so well online.

“[P]ulling [‘The Legend of Korra’] off the channel and moving it to digital exclusively is part of the huge sea change in the whole industry,” Konietzko explained during the panel. “I’m sure you’ve seen articles about cable numbers and streaming and companies doing their own content and all sorts of stuff.”

He continued, “So obviously we’re in the middle of a huge change. And things have changed just for us since we did in ‘Avatar’ in 2005-2008 and then when we came back in 2012. And when ‘Book 1’ of ‘Korra’ came out it did pretty good on TV but its online presence was just insane. Not only the chatter from all the fans but the actual numbers in terms of digital downloads and streaming, it’s just been huge. And as the show’s gone along, by ‘Book 2,’ the numbers in the digital streaming greatly outweighed the channel.”

The co-creator admitted that The Legend of Korra didn’t necessarily fit in with the rest of the Nickelodeon shows that usually focus on Tween sitcoms and cartoons for younger kids. However, the Book 2 finale had “insane” streaming numbers and was the “biggest event they had that year” when it appeared on Nick.com.

The move to make Korra a digital exclusive still caught the people behind the show by surprise.

“It wasn’t necessarily done in the smoothest way and that was upsetting to many of you and us as well,” Konietzko admitted. “So, we’re moving over to digital. It’s actually a plan that was in place earlier and it changed course and then went back in a bit of a messy way.”

Messy appears to be the operative word for The Legend of Korra: Book 3. While the show has been better received than Book 2 by fans, Nickelodeon’s distribution has been all over the place. The new season premiered a week after it was announced due to leaks. This coincided with the decision to air two episodes a week causing the series to burn through episodes before many fans even realized it was on. At the same time, there was no digital distribution available despite the show being such a huge hit online.

The first eight episodes of Korra: Book 3 are now available to watch on Nick.com with the remaining five episodes coming over the remaining weeks. The shift to all digital will not affect the story or production in anyway though, according to Konietzko.

“We’ve already written the scripts, we’ve finished all the pre-production, we’re just doing post and Studio Mir is finishing the animation. Other than it not being on the Nickelodeon main channel nothing is changing. You get to see it, which is the important thing,” he concluded.

What do you think of Nickelodeon’s handling of The Legend of Korra? Let us know in the comments below.

[Image via Bryan Konietzko Tumblr]