Cartoon Network Aims Shows at Adults

Entertainment Writer

In the beginning, there were the Flintstones, and it was good.
Prime-time TV seemed like as good a place as any for
feature-animated programs.

Then came the Simpsons, and it was even better.

Now, in the new millennium, Adult Swim on Cartoon Network
represents the next generation of cartoons appealing to a more
mature age group.

“It’s cool to be able to relate to the cartoons. It’s like being
a little kid again. It’s funny,” said Lauren Lane, a mass
communication junior.

Lane watches Adult Swim two to three times a week. Her favorite
show, “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” is an original program created for
Adult Swim.

Adult Swim is Cartoon Network’s block of animated series that
was launched in September 2001 aimed specifically at the 18 to 34
year-old demographic that Lane represents, said Jim Babcock, a
spokesman for Cartoon Network.

Even though one-third of Cartoon Network’s viewing audience has
been over 18 years old since its inception, the network wanted to
create a solid audience of younger viewers before creating a lineup
of more adult-oriented programing.

But, Cartoon Network has featured “Space Ghost: Coast to Coast,”
a late-night talk show program with an animated host and live
guests targeted at adult viewers, since the network’s creation in
1994, Babcock said.

Now that Cartoon Network has established itself, the Adult Swim
programming block has not only taken off, but found a unique niche
among its audience, Babcock said.

“We have become habit-forming for lovers of adult animation,”
Babcock said.

These adult-animation enthusiasts include college students
across the country, which makes up the largest part of the
audience, Babcock said.

Babcock cites word-of-mouth advertising in large part of their
program’s popularity.

“We’ve never had a huge marketing budget … what we did was
start out slow, modestly and let a buzz begin to build about it,”
Babcock said.

A grassroots program, in which Adult Swim employs college
students on campuses in order to plan events and promote the
programming, also helps with the public awareness of Adult

Cartoon Network is not the first to create an animated lineup to
cater to adults.

“The Simpsons,” another popular animated program, is
historically the most popular show on the Fox Network, said Scott
Grogin, the Vice President of Corporate Communications for the Fox
Broadcasting company.

In fact, “Family Guy,” one of the more popular shows in the
Adult Swim lineup, was originally on the Fox Network, but was
cancelled twice, Grogin said.

“Family Guy” is scheduled to reappear in the Fox prime-time
lineup in 2005 with all-new episodes, thanks largely to DVD sales,
which reached nearly one million sold almost immediately, Grogin

“Cartoon Network has done a wonderful job with Adult Swim …
but, on a broadcast network, the numbers they generate would be
grounds for almost immediate cancellation,” Grogin said.

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