Last updated on September 18th, 2023
I’ve written before a few times about Teletoon, Canada’s long-time animation network and counterpart to the United States’ Cartoon Network. Both networks have had longtime ties, airing each others’ programming. “Johnny Test” and “Total Drama Island,” both Teletoon shows, aired heavily on Cartoon Network back in the 2000s and 2010s. In 2012, the networks’ ties grew stronger: a Canadian version of Cartoon Network was launched, managed by Canadian media giant Corus, who also own Teletoon.
Last month came surprising news: Corus plans to shut down Teletoon; on March 27, Teletoon will be rebranded as Cartoon Network. Additionally, Canada’s current Cartoon Network channel will be relaunched as Boomerang. It’s unclear (from what I could find) if the same fate awaits the French-language version of Teletoon (“Télétoon”).
So long, Teletoon
Teletoon has been a mainstay of Canadian cable TV since its 1997 launch. Even after Cartoon Network’s Canadian launch, it seemed treated like a secondary channel versus Teletoon. Given Teletoon’s longevity and familiar branding, it might seem odd to ditch it for Cartoon Network (and an American network at that).
That said, there’s one argument in favor of the change: having both Teletoon and Cartoon Network looks redundant, given both channels basically shared the same programming. (Adult Swim launched as a separate network in Canada in 2019.) Between that and declining cable TV subscription rates, I could see Corus deciding having two redundant networks might not be worthwhile.
As for Boomerang, Canada until 2015 had a similar network, Teletoon Retro, dedicated to older cartoons, plus some Canadian ones like “Rocket Robin Hood.” Going by YouTube, it also seems Retro still aired the stand-alone “Road Runner Show,” which hasn’t aired here in the US for decades. Retro was shuttered in 2015 as part of changes in the Canadian cable TV landscape. Its old channel spot was replaced on most cable TV systems by a launch of a Canadian version of Disney Channel, which is also run by Corus (and led to longtime Disney programming home Family undergoing changes). As far as I can tell, there hasn’t been a prominent home for older cartoons in Canada since Retro’s shutdown.
Teletoon lives on via streaming as “Teletoon+”
The Teletoon name will live on as the name of Corus’ animation streaming service, “Teletoon+.” (The Boomerang streaming service is still US-only.) From its website, Teletoon+ is an Amazon Prime Video add-on that costs $6/month (Canadian), though is also available as an add-on for a few cable TV services. (HBO Max doesn’t exist in Canada, though Canadian streaming service Crave carries most of its lineup).
JustWatch lists Teletoon+’s catalog. Going by JustWatch and Teletoon+’s main page, Teletoon+ carries programming from: Cartoon Network; Teletoon; Hulu (the “Animaniacs” relaunch); most of the major DC Comics TV cartoons (from “Batman: The Animated Series” to “Young Justice”); some Canadian programming, such as “Braceface” and Nelvana’s 2003 version of “The Berenstain Bears”; and the all-ages HBO Max originals (such as “Looney Tunes Cartoons”). While it’s missing the classic Looney Tunes or older Hanna-Barbera shows, and a few modern Cartoon Network shows, it covers most modern Warner Bros. programming pretty well.
This sounds a lot like what Boomerang’s streaming service in the US could be: a home for all of Warners’ cartoon lineup, including the DC superhero shows. One of HBO Max’s downsides, especially under its current Discovery owners, is it’s increasingly aimed just at fans of HBO’s live-action, adult-oriented lineup, and not Cartoon Network fans. (Axing half of the Looney Tunes catalog to save money says it all.) I also noticed Teletoon+ has the shows HBO Max erased, such as “Infinity Train,” as well as stuff that’s either unavailable on any service here (“Johnny Bravo”) or now obscure (“Sym-Bionic Titan”).
A Boomerang-priced service that had all of Warners’ extensive animation catalog in one spot would be appealing for those that, like me, have zero interest in “Game of Thrones,” “The Sopranos,” etc. It’d also beat paying $16/month for a service mainly focused on said live-action shows, just to have “Scooby-Doo,” “Steven Universe,” and “Teen Titans” under one roof. As it stands, here stateside, the WB animation catalog is mainly split between HBO Max (the DC superhero shows), Boomerang (Looney Tunes, Hanna-Barbera, some older Cartoon Network shows), and Hulu (some recent Cartoon Network shows).
From a Google search, there are already plenty of articles looking back on Teletoon’s history, filled with nostalgia for Canadian TV viewers. While I’m American (and thus only saw Teletoon firsthand on a few visits to Canada), I can see why this change is a big deal, even if Cartoon Network’s programming will be mostly similar.
Do you have any thoughts about Teletoon shutting down, or memories about Teletoon? List them in the comments below.
Image of Teletoon and Cartoon Network logos. (Corus / Warner Bros.)