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Toon-ing Up Audience Gains

Cartoon Network is marking its 20th anniversary in style. Year-to-date, it has posted its best total-day ratings in six years among total viewers and its core demographic of boys 6 to 11. It also saw its best viewership ever across all kids’ demos during the early prime hours of 7 to 9 p.m. The Turner Broadcasting Systemowned network is on track to post audience gains on a 24-hour basis in 2013, while rivals Disney Channel and Nickelodeon are headed to viewership declines. Cartoon Network president Stuart Snyder spoke with Multichannel News programming editor R. Thomas Umstead about the network’s big year and his plans to keep the momentum going in 2013. An edited transcript follows.

MCN: What’s made Cartoon’s 20th year such a breakthrough year from a ratings perspective?

Stuart Snyder: It goes back to how we think about our content and our philosophy of surprising our audiences with unique and alternative programming. Our new generation of comedies has paved the way for great success with franchises like Adventure Time and Regular Show, as well as The Looney Tunes Show.

MCN: With all of the new content, is the network’s focus still on boys ages 6 to 11?

SS: Our entry point is always boys 6 to 11, but we do it in a way that invites girls. Clearly when you see our kids’ numbers doing as well as [they have], that’s bringing in not just boys, but we’re also up with girls.

MCN: Disney Channel and Nickelodeon suffered ratings declines and some observers speculate that kids are watching less television overall. Do you subscribe to that theory?

SS: I can only speak for us, and we showed evidence that we can develop programming that connects with this generation of kids, and that’s reflected by the increases that we’ve had. Kids are still watching television in very big numbers, and kids are also very active on our websites and on the digital platforms as well. We can’t ignore that kids are active and doing things on multiplatforms, but there’s no doubt that they’re still watching television.

MCN: How do you continue your ratings momentum going into 2013?

SS: First and foremost, we will continue with new seasons of our great global franchises. In addition, we’ve announced new shows like Steven Universe and Uncle Grandpa for next year. We’re also excited about Nick Cannon’s new show Incredible Crew, which is a kid’s sketch show and premieres in January of 2013. So we’re focused on bringing back our hits and continuing to bring new shows to the network and engaging kids wherever they live.