Cartoon Network is proud to be the No. 1 channel among boys 6 to 11. But even as it touts its success in the demographic over rival networks, namely Nickelodeon, it seems to be taking some cues from its pressured peer.
Cartoon Network's upfront pitch to advertisers Wednesday night included a show based on a YouTube hit and a series from entertainer Nick Cannon.
Mr. Cannon is a familiar face in the kids' space in general and Nickelodeon in particular, having begun his TV career as a sketch comedian on Nickelodeon's "All That" and as a guest on "Kenan and Kel." He was even named honorary chairman and development consultant for TeenNick under a two-year deal in 2009 and recently produced an original movie for the network, "Rags," which will premiere later this year.
At Cartoon Network, Mr. Cannon is producing an as-yet-unnamed, live-action sketch comedy along the lines of an "All That" or "SNL" for tweens (see the video above). This follows Cartoon's recent move into live-action with "Level Up," which was renewed.
"A few years ago, we presented you with a plan, a vision and a strategy, and it was to reinvent prime," said Stuart Snyder, president and chief operating officer of Turner Animation young adults and kids' media, during the upfront presentation at Roseland Ballroom in New York. "Well, we've done that , and we are going to continue to do it."
New series "Annoying Orange" is based on a YouTube series that has gone viral. Nickelodeon has already found success with Fred Figglehorn, a YouTube character created by Lucas Cruikshank. Nick has aired "Fred: The Movie," and announced at its upfront that it will produce "Fred: The Show."
Cartoon Network said ratings among boys 6 to 11 have surged 28%, marking its best first quarter since 2005.
Joe Hogan, exec vp of sales at the network, urged advertisers to take advantage of Cartoon Network's momentum. "Today is the day. It's time to reassess your media plans."
Cartoon Network celebrated its 20th anniversary with an elaborate live performance from the cast of its popular cartoons "Adventure Time " and "Regular Show," both picked up for another season. The theatrical performance culminated with a full orchestra concert of classic cartoon theme songs and music.
The channel also plans DreamWorks' "Dragons: The Series," based on the "How to Train Your Dragon" movie; a second series in conjunction with Lego capitalizing on the success of "Ninjago"; a spin-off of "Ben 10" called "Ben 10: Omniverse;" and, this summer, "Total Drama: Revenge of the Island."