On August 15th, Shimizu Kenji, executive producer of many of Fuji TV’s most successful anime, comments on why the station decided to drop its weekday anime. According to him, the 19:00/7PM weekday timeslots were reasonable through most of the 1980s but saw a steep dropoff due to the increased prevalence of cram schools (keeping more kids from being home until late, when adult-oriented programs such as the Monday 9 dramas were already entrenched in their own slots) and the decreasing Japanese birthrate (thus shrinking the total number of kids available as an audience). Large audiences were vital to terrestrial Fuji TV, which explains why UHF (Ultra High Frequency waveband) stations were able to continue to broadcast anime in those same slots.
Original Article: http://www.narinari.com/Nd/20150833194.html
As a companion to Shimizu’s commentary here, it’s worth noting a few things. One, while the Monday and Thursday 19:00 slots died sequentially with Sakigake! Otokojuku in 1988 (started on Thursdays, moved to Mondays, was the last anime in both slots), the Wednesday slot lasted a full decade longer (ending in 2001). Wednesday 19:00, by the way, was the Akira Toriyama legacy slot that ran a combination of Dr. Slump and Dragon Ball from 1981-1999, then picked up One Piece for 2 years before said program shifted to Sunday evenings in 2001.
Two, at least in the case of One Piece, which admittedly moved much later than the others and is more popular than your average franchise, ratings seem to react negatively to slot changes. In 2001, the average ratings of the last 3 months of One Piece airing in its Wednesday slot (15.0) actually beat what it had over the first 3 months of its Sunday afternoon slot (14.7). In 2005, One Piece actually averaged a point less (12.1->11.0) when it shifted back in time by half an hour. And in 2006, when the show shifted from Sunday evenings to 9:30 in the morning, the ratings fell off a cliff (10.7->6.5), though they’ve improved somewhat since.
Three, the network briefly tried to capitalize on the Toriyama legacy slot by sticking a second anime slot right after it, starting from Kuma no Puutarou in 1995. This slot carried Rurouni Kenshin and the first few episodes of GTO, but that experiment ended at the same time the 1997 Dr. Slump anime did, in October of 1999. It’s possible that executives assumed that the then-new One Piece wouldn’t be able to provide the same kind of ratings tail necessary to support the secondary slot that the Toriyama shows had, or maybe Dr. Slump wasn’t providing the ratings tail that Dragonball had and they decided to phase out the Wednesday slots in pieces.
Fourth, TV Tokyo, one of Fuji TV’s major competitors, actually *launched* a large number of weekday 18:00 timeslots in the early 1990s, as did Nihon TV and NHK. Just based on how long some of those slots have lasted, at least some weekday anime was demonstrably viable throughout the 1990s. Reduced weekday competition from Fuji TV may have helped TV Tokyo maximize the returns it got airing Naruto, Bleach, and other weekday long-runners.
At any rate, the translated article text can be read below.