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September 23, 2014

Cartoon Network Succeeds By Staying True to Itself

by Danny Gallagher, posted Jan 16th 2011 10:00AM
Alfred E. Neuman, the cover boy of Just about every major cable network seems to have abandoned their original, core genre for bland, unoriginal shows that barely fit their format.

VH1, formerly "Video Hits No. 1," has more sleazy reality shows on their lineup than the Fox Reality Channel. A&E focuses less and less on the "arts" and airs stuff that's barely "entertainment." MTV got so tired of people complaining that they didn't air music videos that they actually took the "music" out of their name.

And while this isn't true for EVERY channel on the dial (although Comedy Central came close when it picked up a show where robots fought each other and it wasn't an elaborate sketch written by Demetri Martin), it has since become a sad fact of TV life. One network, however, has proven that if you stick to what you do and know best, you'll smash the competition.

That network is Cartoon Network

Cartoon Network not only revamped the late-night lineup with its groundbreaking line of Adult Swim cartoons, but it's done just as well on the rest of its schedule. Back in the day, even when Adult Swim slowly started becoming the identity that re-branded the entire network with alternative animated comedies like 'Aqua Teen Hunger Force' and 'Tim and Eric Awesome Show Great Job!,' it still stuck by its guns, airing blocks of original cartoons and classic reruns of old favorites.

There wasn't anything else in daytime or primtime that was new or equal to greatness as the potential its "Adult Swim" cousins were carrying. Then when its late-night block took off into new alternative programming territory thanks to a mix of great original programs and new favorites like 'King of the Hill' and 'Futurama,' it gave them the guts to expand the rest of their lineup with more original shows.

The plan seems to have paid off in the ratings department. Cartoon Network's 'MAD,' 'Regular Show' and 'Adventure Time,' became the highest rated shows among boys in three young male demographics in all of cable in the last quarter of 2010. Their ratings have increased by double digits since last year across all young demos, an even more impressive feat considering these shows mainly run in primetime.

That can only help them in the long run when their Adult Swim shows continue to bring in those young viewers as they grow older.

And even Cartoon Network isn't immune from the symptom of veering away from its core genre to score some easy points in proven genres like reality game shows. There are some live-action game shows on the afternoon and evening dial like 'Destroy, Build, Destroy,' 'Dude, What Would Happen' and a pint-sized remake of the Fox bomb 'Hole in the Wall,' but even those are being carried by their animated brethren and are seeing huge increases as well from 2010.

The key here is the easy scores like reality shows don't rule the network's programming schedule. In fact, it's quite the opposite. Cartoon Network has unearthed a novel approach in television programming. They let their core audience of cartoon loving viewers (like me) drive their flagship material and it trickles into their live-action sub-genres.


The network keeps the identity and brand they have spent years trying to build without letting the flavor-of-the-month shows drive it into another homogenized stop on the cable landscape.

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Angie

I understand what you're trying to say, but I think the fact that nearly all of the classic cartoons have been shoved over onto Boomerang and the fact that they are showing live action programming at all makes them just as bad as the rest. Sure, they may be getting the highest ratings from cartoons at this moment in time, but the moment one of those reality programs takes off, you're going to see more and more of them. They've already broken the rules, it will be exceedingly easy for them to continue to do so.

January 18 2011 at 10:12 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
john

dont forget tlc bravo and now the sy fy channel with wrestling have all go the comercial way.

January 16 2011 at 12:33 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sourbob

Sort of talking out of both sides of our mouth aren't we? Slagging A&E for not showing "Arts," MTV for not showing music, and praising Cartoon Network, which more and more frequently, does not show cartoons.

I'd say they're an example of a network that *DID* lose the thread.

January 16 2011 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to sourbob's comment
Dannyboy

That's true and it's a fact I mentioned in the review, but it's consistently highest rated shows among its core audiences are still cartoons and that's the point I was aiming for. A network cannot only succeed by sticking with its core audience but it can also make all television better by offering a more eclectic lineup across the board instead of just sticking with the same tired formats.

January 17 2011 at 3:43 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
sourbob

Sort of talking out of both sides of our mouth aren't we? Slagging A&E for not showing "Arts," MTV for not showing music, and praising Cartoon Network, which more and more frequently, does not show cartoons. Rather than Toon being an example of a network that doesn't

January 16 2011 at 11:37 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Pudge

This would be a great point to make except for the fact that you seem to ignore that all these new cartoons are coming after CN tried to become Nickelodeon for 5 years. The live action shows you mention are the remnant of the CN Real movement to basically do what all the other networks are doing and move away from their core. That movement failed and now they're just trying to get back to a level of stability.

If you want to see theme song to the horrible era of CN Real, it's on YouTube-http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Fwlb2gGEk54&feature=related

January 16 2011 at 11:32 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jae Risk

Pay attention and take note Sy frelling fy!

January 16 2011 at 10:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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