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Cartoon Network Fall 2010 Kristoffer Falcones, Anna Mackey, Brendan Mahoney.


History

Cartoon Network, created by Turner Broadcasting, is a cable television channel dedicated to animated programming. In 1986, before Cartoon Network was created, Ted Turner’s cable-conglomerate acquired the existing MGM film and television library.[1] Two years later, cable channel Turner Network Television (TNT) gained an audience with this film library, and lead Turner to purchase the animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions in 1991.[2] This acquisition provided Turner with an even larger library, and in October of 1922, Cartoon Network was created as an outlet for Turner’s library of animation.

Initially, programming consisted of reruns of classic Warner Bros. cartoons along with some Hanna-Barbera time-fillers. In 1994, Cartoon Network created its first two original series: The Moxy Show and Space Ghost Coast to Coast. In 1995, The What-A-Cartoon! Show, a series of creator-driven short cartoons, premiered with the objective to steer away from repetitive programming and really expand the channel’s exclusive content. The show spun-off six highly successful original series: Dexter’s Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Cow and Chicken, The Powerpuff Girls, Mike, Lu, & Og, and Courage the Cowardly Dog.[3]

In 1996, Turner merged with Time Warner. This merger consolidated ownership of all Warner Bros. cartoons.[4] Time Warner changed the direction of Cartoon Network, focusing the studio exclusively on creating new material for the channel. Currently, nearly all of Cartoon Network’s classic cartoon programming has been relocated to its sister network Boomerang[5], creating even more space for new programming. In 2001, Adult Swim premiered as a “spin-off” programming block targeting adults. In 2005, Turner Broadcasting split Adult Swim from Cartoon Network so it could be treated as a separate channel for rating purposes. Though it is treated as a separate channel, it still shares channel space with Cartoon Network, allotted the hours of 10:00 PM to 6:00 AM EST.[6] The introduction of Adult Swim really expanded Cartoon Network’s audience, as it began appealing not only to children, but to the 18+ demographic as well.

In February of 2007 Jim Samples, general manager of Cartoon Network for thirteen years, resigned because of the Boston bomb scare.[7] Stuart Snyder was named successor, and under his leadership Cartoon Network underwent a number of changes, including in 2009 a new block of live-action reality shows promoted as CN Real.

Ownership and Conglomeration

Cartoon Network is run by Turner Broadcasting System, Inc., a Time Warner company. In addition to Cartoon Network, TBS, Inc. also runs the CNN network, as well as the entertainment networks TBS, TNT, Turner Classic Movies, Adult Swim, Boomerang, truTV, Peachtree TV, and many additional international channels.

Before TBS, Inc. began, R.E. Turner purchased WJRJ-Atlanta, a small UHF station, and renamed it WTCG for parent company Turner Communications Group. In 1976, after successful guidance from Turner, WTCG originated the “superstation” concept, transmitting programming via satellite to cable systems. In 1976, the company changed its name to Turner Broadcasting System, Inc. In 1980, the company launched CNN, the first 24-hour all-news network and a groundbreaking step in how the world viewed breaking news. Today, TBS Inc. is a leading provider of programming for the basic cable industry, with networks all over the world.[8]

Partnership

Boomerang

While Cartoon Network started as a channel to broadcast cartoons from the MGM and Hanna Barbera libraries, as the channel matured and started to produce original content, however, these programs were shown less and less frequently.  To remedy this, Turner Broadcasting created Boomerang in April of 2000.  Boomerang, a sister channel of Cartoon Network, is a continuation of the channel's original mission and a home for classic cartoons like Tom and Jerry, The Jetsons, and The Flintstones. [9]

Adult Swim

Cartoon Network's edgy late night block, Adult Swim, begins at 10 p.m. and ends at 6 a.m. Like Cartoon Network, almost all of the programs are cartoons, but many purposefully avoid the mainstream. Adult Swim has carved out a niche for itself in late night cable with cult cartoons like Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Venture Bros, Space Ghost: Coast to Coast (a parody of late night talk shows), and Robot Chicken.[10]  Adult Swim is also partially also responsible for resurrecting the popular show Family Guy, which became extremely successful in syndication after it had been cancelled by FOX.[11]

Aqua Teen Hunger Force, one of Adult Swim's signature programs and also it's longest running, gained significant press surrounding a guerrilla marketing campaign. The campaign, which involved LED light up placards of an ATHF minor character giving the finger, was misconstrued as a bomb threat in Boston and led to the arrest of two men. Turner Broadcasting was forced to apologize for the stunt and paid a $2 Million restitution. Jim Samples, the general manager of Cartoon Network who authorized the campaign resigned in light of the event.[12]

Production, Distribution, Transmission

Cartoon Network produces many original hit shows such as Courage the Cowardly Dog, Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, Cow and Chicken, and Ed, Edd and Eddy. Newer originals include The Marvelous Misadventures of Flapjacks, Chowder, and Ben 10: Alien Force. These are all produced and broadcasted by Cartoon Network. The channel also has third party trademarks and partnerships (listed below) that are under the Turner Broadcasting System ownership and are broadcasted by the network. One trademark that was acquired by Turner Broadcasting System was Warner Bros.'s Batman and Justice League, which were exclusive to the network until the creation of the Kids WB block on the WB channel. Besides the third party trademarks, Cartoon Network originals produced by the Cartoon Network Studios remain exclusively on the channel and not distributed to any other network.

Cartoon Network also receives content from international networks with shows such as Dragonball Z, Yu Gi Oh, Yuyu Hakusho, Inuyasha, Pokémon, Naruto, and Naruto: Shippuden. Many of these shows are considered manga but are translated into english and retitled cartoons.

Cartoon Network also distributes its contents internationally. In the United Kingdom for example, Cartoon Network distributes some of its trademark cartoons to the UK TBS network. [13]

Audiences

Cartoon Network splits its target age demographics into the following sections[14]:
• Kids 12-17
• Kids 2-11
• Kids 6-11
• Kids 9-14
• Men 12-17
• Men 18-24
• Men 18-34
• Men 18+
• Persons 18-24
• Persons 18-34
• Persons 18-49
• Persons 18+
• Persons 25-49
• Persons 25-54
• Persons 35+

Demographic Statistics: [15]

Gender
Male: 57%
Female: 43%

Age
3-12: 20%
13-17: 35%
18-34: 19%
35-49: 18%
50+: 8%

Race/Ethinicity
Caucasian: 47%
African American: 24%
Latino/Hispanic: 19%
Asian: 8%
Other: 1%

Income
$0-30k: 19%
$30-60k: 28%
$60-100k: 29%
$100k+: 23%

Education
No College: 58%
College: 31%
Grad School: 10%

The Turner Broadcasting System gears Cartoon Network toward children but the channel receives a large amount of adults, especially across Europe, making up 30 to 40 percent of its audience[16]. In the United Kingdom specifically, the adult audience makes up 42 percent. 

Branding Strategies

Because of Cartoon Network’s younger demographic, much of the network’s branding includes an interactive website with games, videos, and a retail shop. Cartoon Network also launched a Cartoon Network Magazine, and in 2007 Teshkeel Media Group announced their partnership with CN to publish Arabic and English versions of Cartoon Network Magazine in the Middle East and North Africa.[17]

The CN retail shop carries merchandise specific to seventeen of its shows, including backpacks, T-Shirts, bedding, books, costumes, DVDs, games, and various other products. On October 5, 2010 Cartoon Network Enterprises and MEGA Brands entered a global licensing agreement to develop construction toys based on CN’s new boys action series, Generator Rex.[18] This is the first time the companies have partnered on product development, and this step will further commodify Cartoon Network's programming. Cartoon Network also targets the younger demographic with their facebook page boasting 1,157,009 fans as of October 7, 2010 as well as a FartBlaster game.

Adult Swim hosts its own website with games, videos, and retail shop as well. In parallel with its programming, the Adult Swim merchandise targets an older audience with merchandise ranging from DVDs to “I Hate My Boss” mugs.

Signature Programming

As one would expect, Cartoon Network's signature programming is animation, which has been true since the channel's formation and remains true today.  Cartoon Network started showing older classics in the Hanna-Barbera library, but in 1995, with Space Ghost, Coast to Coast and The Moxy Show, Cartoon Network began its evolution toward more original programming.  The new crop of shows, which included Dexter's Laboratory, The Powerpuff Girls, and Johnny Bravo, became the channel's staples.  These shows have since ended and been replaced by newer cartoons, like Ben 10: Ultimate Alien and Teen Titans.  Cartoon Network also broadcasts several Japanese manga programs in its current schedule, such as Bakugan Gundalian Invaders and Beyblade Metal Fusion.  While cartoons continue to be the channels primary identity, more recently the channel has begun to experiment with other forms of television.

CN Real

In 2009, Cartoon Network launched a sub-brand called CN Real, an umbrella term for its new, original live action programming, which includes both scripted and reality show programs aimed to appeal at the younger audience of Cartoon Network. Unnatural History and Tower Prep are two scripted, hour long dramas, while Destroy Build Destroy and Dude, What Would Happen are structured similarly to popular American reality shows like Junkyard Wars and Mythbusters.[19] CN Real's newest show, Hole in the Wall is based off the Japanese Game show Nōkabe.[20]    

Textual Analysis

-Tower Prep (October 2010 - Present)-

Tower Prep is a new live-action series from Cartoon Network centered on Ian, a courageous but rebellious teenager who has recently been suspended from his school. After being suspended, he wakes up at a mysterious prep school with no idea where he is or how he got there. He discovers that Tower Prep is an exclusive school for students with special abilities, although none of the students know where the school is located geographically or how any of them ended up there. Ian and his three new friends CJ, Gabe, and Suki are determined to uncover the mysteries of Tower Prep and escape.

This live-action series is aiding in the network’s plan to target a broader audience. The programming block CN Real was started in 2009 to introduce live actions shows on Wednesday and Saturday nights, but because the block received negative reception, only two of the original shows from that block, Dude, What Would Happen and Destroy Build Destroy, continue to air on Wednesday night’s. Tower Prep premiered on October 16, 2010 and has aired 2 subsequent episodes to date airing at 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday nights. Airing at 8 p.m. leaves the show still accessible to younger audiences perhaps already engaged in the channel before that time while also attempting to draw in an older audience. With main characters in high school and a more intricate and adult plotline, Tower Prep is focusing on the 13-17 year-old demographic. By airing the show on Tuesday nights instead of Wednesday nights with the other live-action shows, Cartoon Network is attempting to broaden its viewership by expanding that established Wednesday night audience to a different day of the week while also picking up new viewers.

Paul Dini, former first season story editor for Lost, is the creator of Tower Prep. Many of the same Lost concepts of mystery, action, humor, and love interest are present in Tower Prep, as it intends to bring the audience along for an entertaining and mysterious ride while also engaging their hypothesis, and their interest, by ending episodes with cliff-hangers intended to entice the audience back. Viewer commitment and interaction is key for the show to develop a continuing audience. The Tower Prep section of the Cartoon Network website includes a “meet the characters” section, a “what we know so far” section, as well as a “fan talk” forum. The “What do you think is going on at Tower Prep” topic already boats 422 messages and 35,423 views.

        • here is what i have so far. i have to go to a spanish movie now, but it'll be over by 7 and i'll come back and finish this..going to talk about the characters and cultural representation and tie it all together. anything else? edit/add it you wish -- anna
        • This looks good Anna. I haven't watched it yet but will soon. In addition to cultural representation, I think you should also mention how age and adolescence is portrayed, especially if the theme seems to be kids vs. adults in high school. Once I watch it I will add some stuff.

References

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  2. Lippman, John. “Turner is Buying Hanna-Barbera Film Library.” Los Angeles Times. October 30, 1991. http://articles.latimes.com/1991-10-30/business/fi-565_1_film-library Date accessed: October 6, 2010.
  3. Harris, Jeff and Kavalos, Jonathan. “What is Cartoon Cartoon?” Nick and More. http://www.nickandmore.com/archive/fridays/whatacartoon.html Date accessed: October 6, 2010.
  4. Lander, Mark. “Turner to Merge Into Time Warner; A $7.5 Billion Deal.” The New York Times. September 23, 1995. http://www.nytimes.com/1995/09/23/us/turner-to-merge-into-time-warner-a-7.5-billion-deal.html Date accessed: October 6, 2010.
  5. Bortz, Peter. “Cartoon Network History.” Animation Sensations. http://www.animationsensations.com/cartoon_network_history.html Date accessed: October 6, 2010.
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