Jetix, the UK TV station that owns the rights to Sonic X, has recently been rebranded by parent company Disney in a bid to improve ratings. The move has resulted in the channel being renamed as ‘Disney XD’ and features a combines real-life Disney drama with cartoons on Jetix’s old schedule such as Pokemon: Battle Dimension.

In the US, 4Kids Entertainment – the anime localisation studio that doubled as a programming block on Fox television until December 2008 – has put itself up for sale according to paidContent.org. The move follows a dismal performance of the business, in which a recent report reveals that the company’s last profitable year was Fiscal Year ending January, 2006. 4Kids are reported to be going through a selective bidding process.

The implications on the animation Sonic X, and the Sonic franchise in general, could be massive. In Europe, Disney has owned the Jetix channel since 2001 – the aforementioned XD channel launch seems merely like an exercise in assimilation. However, Jetix owns the merchandising rights to the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in Europe, following a contract discrepancy with Sega in 2003. With Jetix merged, this opens questions as to whether Disney absorbs those rights or whether the contract defaults back to Sega Europe.

Back in North America, it will be interesting to see who ends up buying 4Kids and thus owning the rights to the Sonic X animation. With Disney’s move in Europe, it would be rather ironic to see the House of Mouse buy the company and complete the set of Sonic the Hedgehog cartoons (thus far Disney own the rights to SatAM and Sonic Underground – it is assumed they own Adventures of Sonic the Hedgehog too). Far more worrying a prospect is if 4Kids never finds a buyer, but with a portfolio including Pokemon and Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles there’s a slim chance of that happening.

Who would you like to see own 4Kids? Do you think Jetix’s disappearance is good or bad for the future airing of Sonic X? Speak out in the comments section.

Yu-Gi-Oh! & Cabbage Patch Kids U.S. Parent 4Kids Entertainment For Sale – paidContent.org (via Anime News Network) – Thanks Ferno!

About Dreadknux

Sexy founder of The Sonic Stadium, and creator and co-organiser of the Summer of Sonic fan convention. By day, I'm a super-fantastic games journalist, el professionale. By night, I'm the mother-loving Sonical Batman. I keep the site ticking, look after the TSS Network, and get all excited about Sonic games so that you can too. May contain nuts.
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40 Responses to Disney XD Replaces Jetix, 4Kids Up For Sale

  1. Ben (aka Rio) says:

    What, they own the ENTIRE Sonic franchise in Europe? Games included? Surely that’s not true.

  2. I never really cared hugely for Jetix. Sonic X was a very (very) mildly entertaining show and Pokemon started passably and has become stagnent. I’m sure a younger audience might disagree but Disney can do whatever it wants with 4Kids and any of its shows.

  3. Ben (aka Rio) says:

    Please god the rights go back to SEGA, maybe then we’ll see a bit of sophistication coming back to the franchise. I don’t like Sonic being this sort of funny kiddy little thing as he has been the past few years. I want to see him gain his cult icon status back. Partly this view comes from me being a fan from the start and just being all grown up now but something has definitely happened to Sonic’s image in the wider public. It won’t take much work, just a bit of re-imagining inspired by the Sonic of the 90’s.

  4. jennytablina says:

    Toughie – I don’t know what happens to Sonic’s rights but Jetix effectively was Fox Kids post Disney buyout so I assume it does become Disney’s rights to some degree as they owned the Jetix trademark.

    In terms of Sonic X showing on Disney XD – I wouldn’t hold your breath. Disney XD is airing some stuff Jetix used to air but priority is given to the Disney Channel Cast-offs Suite Life and Phineas and Ferb and new shows like Iron Man and Aaron Stone. If Sonic X does appear again it’ll be a late night airing methinks as Disney XD is trying to paint itself as an entirely new channel

    In all honestly I think they are more likely to give the rights to Pop who have SATAM, AOSTH and Underground

  5. Humble Fellow says:

    @Ben (aka Rio): Sonic’s become kiddy? Shadow the Hedgehog and Sonic 06 were the exact opposite.

    As for the current topic, I’m not worried too much. As far as I can tell, this only really affects Sonic X and not the games.

  6. VirgotheCougar says:

    For who might own 4Kids, I’m sort of rooting for Funimation. I haven’t actually watched any of their shows, but I’ve heard good things about them.

  7. Aren’t we all happy 4Kids is going out of buisness? I just hope they replace Sonic X whith something actually good.

  8. jetex was cool when they had sonic, digimon, and ying yang yo, but now its going under with the damn live action stuff, just like cartoon network, or should i say, CN real! ….. bullshit

  9. @ProjectZuel: Pokemon growing stagnent is mostly the fault of the production studios in Japan and the fact that PUSA now dub it. I personally thought it was a lot better under the early 4Kids rule.

    @Ben/Rio: Err… you were one of the guys who got extremely pissed off when you were told that you were no longer in the target demographic, I’m guessing. Sonic’s ‘Saturday Morning cartoon’ style – what with the cheesiness, the colour and all – has always been a draw for me, actually, and looking at most of the entries I’d say it’s been carried through the series quite consistently (excluding Shadow and ’06). The only game I think that qualifies for ‘too kiddy’ is Sonic Heroes.

    Sonic’s current image isn’t due to the perceived childishness as much as it is to Sonic ’06; nobody sees anything else but that trainwreck anymore. Nobody knows how much work it’ll take to get the poor guy back on track. :(

    @VirgotheCougar: Watch the original FullMetal Alchemist anime. Funimation’s dub scripts and directing is far superior to those of 4Kids; it makes me feel sorry for quite a lot of the 4Kids voice actors, not having that kind of group to work with.

  10. Humble Fellow says:

    Yeah, Funimation does a good job on their dubs. Mainly because they’re not afraid to keep in blood or guns. Sure it’s toned down a bit, but it’s there all the same.

  11. Disney owns everything! (nobody attack me i was exaggerating when i said everything). This makes me so mad!

  12. @Ben/Rio: The games themselves shouldn’t be affected, Ben. Jetix only owned the merchandising rights to Sonic in Europe – that includes things like t-shirts, toys, plushies and books. If Disney’s takeover affects the franchise for worse, I’m sure it’ll just be those things that will be affected.

  13. ‘However, Jetix owns the MERCHANDISING rights to the entire Sonic the Hedgehog franchise in Europe, following a contract discrepancy with Sega in 2003.’

    Merchandising rights. They don’t own the entire franchise. ;)

  14. Jix Hedgehog says:

    I don’t mind Jetix, they showed some awesome cartoons, they should’ve had their own tv channel instead of sharing it with Disney.

    We already have Disney XD over here in the states, they brought back the old Xmen and Spiderman cartoons and I find myself watching them a lot.
    If Disney pick up Sonic etc, that would be great! We need those old Sonic cartoons back on TV :)

  15. The Angelic One says:

    Absorb their anime properties to Funimation! Maybe then we could have us some uncut YGO, Sonic X, etc.

  16. The Angelic One says:

    Come to think of it, might this mean all new VAs for Sonic games?

  17. Humble Fellow says:

    @The Angelic One: If only we had that kind of luck…

  18. Dashing Blue says:

    New VAs?

    The fanbase is JUST beginning to get used to these ones!

  19. @Dashing Blue: I know. For a couple of us, of course, we’ve been perfectly alright with them for a long time. I was so damn gobsmacked and – dare I say it? – excited to bump into an actual Jason Griffith fan at SOS09. As in a ‘he’s awesome’ fan, not one of the (only just slightly) more common ‘meh, he’s not terrible’ fans. Thank god I didn’t catch her name, otherwise I’m scared the rest of the fanbase will come after her with pitchforks.

  20. Funimation’s become the juggernaut, and is buying random anime like crazy. I expect if anyone will, they will, and we’ll finally get nice boxsets released too. Ya know, with all the music and fun stuff intact and whatnot. I’d be very happy if that were to happen.

  21. Clint Welding says:

    I don’t know, but all I know is that it better be owned resposibly, because I hate what the new owners of Disney have done. I mean, they replace all of their good movies and some shows, they replaced Toon Disney with their new crap shows about stupid pre-teens/teens that ruin the tradition of Disney. No offense to anyone who likes the shows on Disney and Disney XD channel, but I’m sick of seeing them become popular over non-traditional stuff, stupid original shows and movies that don’t have a Disney feel to it. I bet if Walt Disney could see what was going on with his name and company, he would be mad and frustrated. I liked Sonic X, but it would have been alot better without the dumb human characters, why couldn’t the humans be background characters like in the games, and not main or focusing characters? It’s hard to watch the show whether I like it or not, without feeling awkward with the stupid human characters. Hopefully the new owners can try and make uncensored versions of Sonic X, or extending it.

  22. This is the day I’ve been waiting for! Seeing 4kids out of business is a dream come true, I really do hope Funimation buys them, thus eliminating the world of their terror. We all know Funimation would do a GOOD version of Sonic X

  23. I miss Jetix…

    Over here, stateside, they showed all kind of classic action shows, Power Rangers (I’m talkin’ 1990’s style), Digimon, The Tick… But that’s besides the point.

    This is Mickey’s revenge for the fact that people know Sonic more than that dumb mouse.

    ‘sighs’

    Nothing we can do now but wait and see what happens…

    …while Disney ruins Marvel…

    …or Google and Disney try to outbid each other…

    …or a meteor falls from the sky. Whichever sign of the Apocolypse comes first…

  24. I’m pretty much reiterating what The Angelic One (among others) is saying, but I hope FUNimation will buy out 4kids, then maybe they’ll then hopefully redub Sonic X so it’s better, along with the other animes they own. (Aside from Pokemon & Yu-Gi-Oh, is what again?)

  25. Disney does indeed have AoStH. I used to watch it on Toon Disney all the time. Something that would be cool about Disney having Sonic X would be if they brought out a huge massive box set of every episode of all four cartoons (AoStH, SatAM, Sounic Underground, and Sonic X). Then they’d have to somehow get the anime movie and Night of the Werehog and tada, animated collection complete.

  26. Yeah,I have Jetx in Bulgaria and I’m really sad that they are going to replace it with this shit Disney :(

  27. 4Kids don’t have Pokémon in their portfolio any more, the Pokémon Company took it away from them several years ago. That was a pretty big blow for them, since Pokémon was by far their biggest money-maker. All they’re left withnow id TMNT, which was only really popular around the time the movie came out, and Yu-Gi-Oh, which was only really popular during it’s original series. Kids aren’t that interested in Yu-Gi-Oh GX or Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles IN THE SPACEFUTURE. The shows are desperately trying gimmicks to stay relevant, and effectively speeding up their own demise.

  28. I believe that the ‘Sonic X’ rights should go back to SEGA, but, if SEGA so chooses, they can give Disney the rights to it. Also, I know that they are a lot of popular dubbing companies out there, but if someone decided to buy 4Kids, I’d like it to be FUNimation since a lot of people like and are familiar with their works (Lupin the Third, Full Metal Alchemist, ect…). I just hope that Disney XD will air more cartoons (old-school cartoons, House of Mouse, ect…) than ‘real-life Disney drama’ (Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, ect…).

  29. Crystalphoenix says:

    The last thing we want is Disney owning 4Kids… Gee, seriously, if I could, I would rob 10+ banks if that’s what it takes to buy 4Kids, disassemble it, and rebuild it as a a company that respects its toons.

  30. Call me crazy, but I think Sonic X should go to *drumroll please*…
    …Nintendo.
    SEGA’s collaborated with Nintendo three times now, so I guess this’d be appropriate…I think.

  31. Nobody will touch 4Kids anymore. Toei utterly destroyed their reputation, and dumped the remains in rotten excretement, after the mess that was One Piece (which Toei also took the rights away to dub and gave it to Funi). I bet you anything this is why 4Kids lost the Pokemon license. If you hate the current Pokemon anime dub, blame Toei. I don’t care, though, the Pokemon anime sucks and I’ll stick with the infinitely more awesome manga.

    But really, 4Kids being picked up by ANYONE, after having their reputation destroyed three years ago followed by constant losses? Fat chance.

  32. @Ben AKA Rio

    Disney only own the rights to the Sonic cartoons and certain merchandise (for instance, clothes are not included. It’s mainly action figures). SEGA own the rights to everything else, but most importantly; the games. Don’t worry, Disney won’t turn the Sonic series into a set of pre-school edutainment titles.

    However, Disney Interactive have published some pretty hardcore titles recently (Pure and Turok come to mind). Maybe they could bring back the old-school Sonic flavour… who knows. At this point in time, any studio could bring back the Sonic flavour better than Sonic Team can (who are pretty much just an empty shell of the Sonic Team we all grew up with). But hey, that’s just cynical-old-me talking.

  33. Humble Fellow says:

    @sonicyoda: “At this point in time, any studio could bring back the Sonic flavour better than Sonic Team can (who are pretty much just an empty shell of the Sonic Team we all grew up with). But hey, that’s just cynical-old-me talking.”

    Cynical? I’ll say.

    A lot of people just don’t seem to understand that times HAVE to change. A lot of fans want to cling on to the old games, spiting new ones as nothing more than garbage without even giving them a chance.

    But think about it this way: If the games stayed exactly the same as they were in the 90’s, people would just complain that the series isn’t going anywhere. And I don’t know about you, but I prefer new and interesting concepts to a more-of-the-same formula.

    Oh, and just to set the record, I am NOT trolling. I’m stating an observation.

  34. Golden~Hedgy says:

    I hope get bought by Funimation or something… to re-dub all of the anime… don’t you all think?

    But…hopefully when 4kids gets bought, the buyer gets rid of the excessive use of “editing” and so on…

  35. Golden Thunder says:

    I, wholeheartedly 100%, agree with you Humble Fellow. I don’t like their solution to the Sonic games ‘poor quality’, which is basically 2-D sidescroller with CG cutscenes. To me it is really a waste of what seems to be very good technology. I mean how can you have the technology and not use it and find it’s limits? This is just my opinion, just so you know, I’m not attempting to insult anyone. I believe that the only way Sonic could be “Brought back to his roots”, is by resetting absolutely everything back to the 90’s. Or by time-travel. Since neither is possible, surely they must go forward.
    Concerning the topic at hand, surely Sega would only license Sonic X to another company. I would have thought that being mainly a games company they would focus more on the games rather than a TV show. If Disney get the rights, then it will most likely have another season made and they would have it played only on their channels. Leaving everyone else in the dark, because to me they are just greedy like that.

  36. STULF the 20X6 Hedgedog says:

    I’d simply like to see the Sonic cartoons and voice acting to go into good hands, if not better. Hell, maybe SEGA will actually cast voices and voice actors THEMSELVES (lazy bastards) like they did long ago.

    As for the anime, I’d like to see it completely redone. Mainly because Chris is stupid, what was up with Hyper Sonic (aka Nazo) appearing in the promotional video, and Jason’s Shadow, at the beignning, was incredibly horrible. “CHAOS CONTROL NOW!” to reset it all.

  37. Sonic of the 90’s (Adventure 1 & 2 Sonic as well)… please come back!

  38. Why would FUNimation redub Sonic X? Seriously… even though the dub was mediocre, it was still a success, spawning merchandise, new Sonic fans, and the like… There is no need for a new dub when you look at it business-wise. Besides, this would just mean NEW voice actors, and knowing Sonic fans, they’ll just hate them too and want the 4Kids ones back.

  39. sonic-x season 3 fan says:

    I hope disney make a 4th season of sonic-x because the 3rd season was really good and they should bring Cosmo back
    (Poor tails!!) Oh, and 4kids made the 3rd season suck, the japanese and the french one are WAAAAY better. Good anime(season 3), watched in French

  40. I know this has nothing to do with Sonic or whatsoever but…

    I really miss Fox Kids…

    its so dead to me now…