Adult Swim to start at 8 PM ET, plus big news for Boomerang

Boomerang logoTurner Broadcasting today announced some big changes for Cartoon Network and Boomerang, its sister channel. Basically:

  • Adult Swim will move up its start time to 8 PM ET/7 PM CT, starting March 31, 2014.
  • Cartoon Network’s website will gain more original animated content to try to reach their “target demographic” of boys ages 6-11, who’re dwindling as an audience for the TV network-proper.
  • Boomerang will become advertising supported as part of a bid to sell it as a “multi-generational” family channel.

I’ll give my two cents below on each of the above…

Adult Swim to start at 8 PM ET March 31

I can see why Adult Swim is being moved up to 8 PM. It’s one of the few major success stories for Cartoon Network/Turner Broadcasting on the animation front, scoring high ratings. However, said attention is mostly for Adult Swim’s edgier fare that airs later at night, not for the reruns of “King of the Hill” that kick the lineup off at its 9 PM time. Just as “King”  likely will do so at 8 PM too, as a “buffer” between Cartoon Network’s fare and the rest of Adult Swim.

Besides feeling like an unneeded expansion, it also gives Adult Swim 42% of a 24-hour day, airing from 8 PM to 6 AM.

Additionally, it seems to be giving up on/ignoring the ground Cartoon Network has recently started making, thanks to hit shows like “Regular Show” and “Adventure Time.” Turning all of primetime over to Adult Swim feels lazy to me, instead of working on whatever remaining issues Cartoon Network has to fix.

Like others, I wonder if or when they’ll consider just giving Adult Swim its own channel entirely. It’s already counted as a separate network/channel from Cartoon Network for ratings and programming purposes, anyway. The issue would be programming daytime hours for an Adult Swim channel, though maybe they’d consider programming such with shows that’re actually “adult” as in “dealing with more mature issues or subjects” (with the benefit of demonstrating a wider range of animation topics on US television), not “adult” as in “shock humor.”

Original online Cartoon Network content?

The press release notes there’ll still be an effort to capture the boys ages 6-11 demographic by producing more online content, including games, apps, and cartoons for Cartoon Network’s website.

While not a bad idea, it depends on what kind of content will result—if it’s just crudely animated and poorly written Flash cartoons, don’t bother. It also needs to hold said demographic’s attention, lest they just go to Netflix and watch “Scooby-Doo” or other Cartoon Network shows there. Plus, Netflix won’t require a cable TV subscription, unlike accessing cartoons on Cartoon Network’s website—a bonus for cord-cutters.

Of course, they might consider expanding their extremely narrow demographics and try appealing to the other half of the population, girls, as well as boys… but that’d be crazy talk. Especially since girls clearly don’t like superheroes/buy merchandise, as Warner Bros.’ own execs believe.

Still, there’s one Turner network that now has a renewed commitment to viewers beyond grade-school-aged boys or college students who like 15-minute shorts…

Boomerang to become ad-supported

This might be the biggest news of the day. For years, Boomerang’s felt ignored by its owners. It’s aired the same few “Hanna-Barbera animated toys” bumpers ad nauseum, and hasn’t had the advertising, promos, or carriage on cable companies Cartoon Network gained by this point in its own lifespan. And no, “Boomerang on Demand” isn’t the same as the actual channel.

While the Disney Channel approach of no outside advertisements has some appeal (promoting one’s own products during show breaks, less commercialism for kids’ and parents’ sakes), I’ve suspected running ads might be the only way to really get Turner to pay attention to, and improve, Boomerang. However, my concern is this might come at the expense of the classic material that makes the channel appealing in the first place. Given what’s happened to Boomerang’s live-action cousins TV Land and Nick-at-Nite (going from classic live-action shows to reality show dreck), I’d hate to see Boomerang fall prey to airing live-action junk. Boomerang also needs to be more than a dumping ground for, or dominated by, recently-cancelled Cartoon Network shows.

Still, the old rule I had in believing Boomerang shouldn’t air anything newer than about a decade ago probably should be tossed at this point, since presumably, advertisers will want at least some new material. I can see all-ages new material just for Boomerang being produced, in a similar fashion to the new material now produced for Boomerang’s fellow rival secondary channels, Disney XD and NickToons. The “multi-generational” remark suggests they might also try positioning Boomerang similarly to The Hub, a channel that’s made waves with an appealing mix of classic and new material.

The press release also notes a desire to “globally re-align” Boomerang. This probably means making the international versions of Boomerang adhere to the American Boomerang’s classics (or classics plus some new fare) format, versus the Nickelodeon-like direction Boomerang in Latin America’s taken, to its ratings decline.

If done well, a revitalized Boomerang would be a great thing to see, and would show there’s room for classic material and some fresh fare. It’d also still allow room (during ad breaks) to cross-promote Cartoon Network. Hopefully, Cartoon Network would also promote its sibling, like they did in the early- to mid-2000s….

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