Thursday, March 26, 2009
Cartoon Network is going to start making "reality" shows. I enjoy Cartoon Network's shows, and if I think to myself, "Gosh, I want to watch a cartoon" chances are I'll look at Cartoon Network. It covers its niche well, from kids shows to the highly lauded and successful Adult Swim and late night Anime. But no, not good enough for them to be a highly successful Cartoon showing network. Variety reports that Cartoon Network is producing 4 reality shows out of the 13 new shows on their new slate and partnering with the NBA to produce a short form segment.
The NBA tie-in is likely a response to Disney XD's much-publicized partnership with ESPN. Disney XD is seeking to wrest the 6-11 boys demo from Cartoon, but it faces an uphill battle. Cartoon's focus on boys over the past year has earned it further dominance over its target aud, traditionally the most lucrative kid demographic for advertisers. The presentation was filled with thinly veiled refs to "the kind of sanitized shows you see from the competition," as more than one exec put it.Seriously? you're feeling threatened by Disney XD's tie-in? they're trying to wrest the demo from you!!! The fact that they are doing better in comparison to you does not mean they are better at what you're doing than you are. In an attempt to capture the all too exciting boys 6-11 demo these two seem to be in a Red Queen (you should read this book) race to nowhere.
Understandably with the Ad Model falling on its face and viewership falling in general, it is logical that networks might feel insecure. But from an evolutionary perspective, once an organism has demonstrated a characteristic that makes it thrive, it passes on its successful traits to offspring. The reason for Offspring is then to further test that trait, to proliferate a successful adaptation. Cartoon Network should not be watering down its brand with non-cartoon knock offs of other shows.
Turner Broadcasting should be utilizing the lessons it could learn from Cartoon Network's success and expand into additional niche markets. Something else happens when a trait is ignored and no offspring are created: the trait disappears from the gene pool. In the frenzy to gain the broadest audience, they may sacrifice what made the original worth while, that it was a highly successful specialist.
If they have enough talent to create new programming in a different style for kids, they should be making a new network that would serve as a generalist: TBS Kids, TBA, TNBA; or add more kids programming to the CW. Frankly put, Cartoon Network should not be Turner's generalist unless the reality shows are animated.