Transformers website TFW 2005 dug into a 2012 Q3 Earnings conference call and pulled out a few neat tidbits of information on why we are only seeing 13 episodes in season three. Brian Goldner (Hasbro's big cheese) was asked about reducing production costs, and within the response he revealed some specific information regarding childrens programming and how exactly seasons work.
More specifically, this quote:
"Yeah, yeah the cash spend you really have to do when you have a successful TV Series… In fact Hasbro Studios TV Shows has outperformed other TV Shows on the Hub by 74% rating with 4 of the Top 10 shows on the network right now. So as you look at great performance of TV Shows, you are able to produce fewer episodes in subsequent series than you need for earlier series. You know, kids love watching episodes over and over again but you have to add an element of newness but you don’t need to spend to produce entire new series again. You can add 13 episodes or a 26 episodes to a pool of 52 already produced Episodes. So therefore you are able to… with a success TV Series… produce fewer in a year. Overall, Hasbro Studios has greenlit over 800 half-hours of programming. We also still have several hundreds of half-hour programming that we are producing for the network and also looking at whether there are successful tv series we obviously then spend less per new series because we are able to produce newer shows."I can understand it from a marketing perspective, and someone who was a child for quite a few years! We really did re-watch Doug and Hey Arnold endlessly. New episodes were great, but when I was bored, anything was entertaining.
I'm sure you all re-watch pony too, but our specific demographic is a bit more demanding than our kid counterparts. Hopefully as the brony scene continues to grow, we might get a bit more of a focus for pony!
This isn't 100% confirmed for the reasoning behind 13 episodes, but it does give a bit of insight into why Hasbro does what they do.