Would CN do better if they kept targetting older audiences?

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Radical Edward

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#1
From early to mid 2010's, CN's popularity amongst older audiences was arguably at an all-time high, thanks to universally accessible shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall, etc. However, it all changed once Christina Miller replaced Stuart Snyder in 2014, and CN has since explicitly presented itself as a kids network, and its shows reflect that. It was also at this point where a lot of older viewers ditched the network once again, as CN was narrowing down their audience to the 6-11 demo.

Now, CN has been deemphasizing their live feed for years by encouraging binge-watching on their non-linear platforms. They also value online engagements more than TV ratings, which is fine and dandy, but with this in mind, I don't think "aging down" their programming slate goes hand in hand with this strategy. I don't know if I speak for everyone, but from my observation, older viewers - particularly teens - tend to be more vocal about the shows they follow and I think they binge-watch more than kids do, so making shows that don't appeal to them will ultimately undermine CN's online popularity. What's more mind-boggling to me is that the whole reason they "kidify" their image is because they wanted to win the core kids demo on LIVE TV i.e. the very platform they're putting less focus on. They're trying to get the best of both worlds but I just don't think it can work that way.

I guess what I'm trying to say is CN should start making older-skewing shows again to win back the teenage crowd they lost. I think it would be beneficial for both the flagging live feed and their digital streaming platform. Don't get me wrong, I really enjoy their current lineup, but I think it would be best if they tried to diversify the content they produce.
 
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Radical Edward

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#4
CN was honestly at their best targeting the teen crowd, and it's something I wish Nickelodeon could possibly do, aswell. In short, yes, CN would not only be better off, but prosperous with a teen demographic.
My sentiments exactly. They had a good thing going when Adventure Time and Regular Show were the face of CN. I feel that the early CN renaissance helped make people take cartoons a little more seriously.
If anything CN should go younger. Adult Swim starting at 8:00 is ridiculous. It should start at 10:00PM at the earliest.
Agree with your second point, but I think the demographic CN is targetting is young enough. On a related note, if CN plans to keep signing off at 8 forever, then airing shows strictly for younger kids would make the transition to AS even more jarring.
 
Oct 11, 2016
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#5
From early to mid 2010's, CN's popularity amongst older audiences was at an all-time high, thanks to universally accessible shows like Adventure Time, Regular Show, Steven Universe, Over the Garden Wall, etc. However, it all changed once Christina Miller took control. CN has since explicitly presented itself as a kids network, and its shows reflect that. It was also at this point where a lot of older viewers ditched the network once again, as CN was narrowing down their audience to the 6-11 demo, and this is where the problem lies.
I think back then they started to appeal to an older demographic because of the success of some their 2008 acquisitions. Total Drama Island and Star Wars: The Clone Wars got phenomenal ratings and did better than the original shows CN had at the time (Chowder, Flapjack, Ben 10: Alien Force and Secret Saturdays). It's the reason why they started airing 6teen again if I remember correctly. As for your question I think yes, they would do a lot better. The shows you listed were/are highly successful. The only modern show that comes close to their popularity is Teen Titans GO, which is not a CN original.
 

Dudley

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#6
I think back then they started to appeal to an older demographic because of the success of some their 2008 acquisitions. Total Drama Island and Star Wars: The Clone Wars got phenomenal ratings and did better than the original shows CN had at the time (Chowder, Flapjack, Ben 10: Alien Force and Secret Saturdays). It's the reason why they started airing 6teen again if I remember correctly. As for your question I think yes, they would do a lot better. The shows you listed were/are highly successful. The only modern show that comes close to their popularity is Teen Titans GO, which is not a CN original.
I agree, CN benefited by going older and edgier in the past, and they should continue to do so if they want to offer something different to their competitors like Nick and Disney


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Checkerboard

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#7
I agree CN should be an underdog alternative offering something for older viewers as well like they used to way back. But a PG label itself doesn't automatically equal edgier/mature/darker. It's really about variety and the shows themselves. Sadly CN these days is limiting themselves by trying to appeal only to a very specific segment.
 
Jul 24, 2016
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#8
Not really, lots of teens turn away from linear TV in favor of streaming.

The networks that bring in the most ratings are kids networks.

But id honestly love Cartoon Network to make more teen shows like they used to.
 

I.R. Shokew

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#9
Count me in as someone in agreement with OP - nobody is going to watch, talk about, or even give your channel a chance whenever you skew too low with audience you want watching your stuff. After all, it's as a certain person here said it best in their signature: "Cartoons aren't meant to be just for kids nor for adults; they're for everyone."

That means turning down the comedy and turning up the action, basically. Being more serious, however - CN needs to start making show again that tackle more mature themes like they did before Miller took over, especially since (whether you like them or not...) Adventure Time, Regular Show, (sometimes) Gumball, and Steven Universe were all Snyder's doing.

Unfortunately, Miller has yet to make a show that can do these themes these examples have tackled by now and do it in a way that could prop up some of these shows out now to the level of what came before it, honestly. Only examples that I can think that even come close towards skewing being for more than just the target audience are OK K.O. and We Bare Bears - anything else (Clarence, Mighty Magiswords, Unikitty!, TTG!, Craig of the Creek, Summer Camp Island, etc.) that weren't action shows wrongfully cancelled before their time? Say what you will about them - they barely come close to being able to compare when it comes to tackling more mature themes that teens (or even adults) can easily identify with and/or relate to in a way that attracts them to make them worth watching for those audiences, hence why some of those examples don't get a lot of love for themselves, either.

MY personal cure for all of this? Less comedy (unless justified), more action, & more proper tackling of mature themes without coming off condescending and/or boring about them.
 

Gatordragon

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#10
Hmmm, I guess a good question to ask is "Is having a large audience outside your targeted demographic useful"? From what I can remember, the 6-11 demographic has always been the target demographic for CN, Nick, and Disney for a long time and ratings outside that demographic were superfluous. Don't get me wrong, I'd like more CN cartoons that appealed to older demographics too, but I feel like unless the target demographic was expanded to include an older audience of teens, there won't be much incentive for CN to make such cartoons nowadays.

Not really, lots of teens turn away from linear TV in favor of streaming.

The networks that bring in the most ratings are kids networks.

But id honestly love Cartoon Network to make more teen shows like they used to.
Well, Radical Edward did mention that CN has been focusing more on its digital services, which teens favor now. Having teen-oriented digital content could come in handy if CN decides to go after that audience. Plus it could mean that action cartoons won't have to rely on toy and merch sales to keep afloat.

Personally, I think Cartoon Network should just go whole hog and embrace digital distribution and streaming with gusto. More and more people are cutting the cord and Netflix has been doing well with original content. Maybe Turner Broadcasting could pull out of Hulu and create their own digital streaming service with their assets.
 
Mar 22, 2018
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#11
Whoo boy, long post ahead. You have been warned.

Anyways, no, absolutely not. CN has targeted older audiences long enough and it's time to focus on being more kiddy again. Although we've been told the "Cartoons aren't just for kids; they're for everyone" rational plenty of times, Cartoon Network promotes itself as a kids network more than anything else and it should air shows that target that audience. That's why Adult Swim became a separate entity in 2005.

Although teenagers are technically still kids and in CN's target demographic, Adult Swim is more tailored to them than CN is or ever was, since a majority of their shows carry a TV-14 label. There's no specific age requirement on the TV-PG rating, but it means that parents might want to consider watching the program with their children for it may contain mature themes. Also, it's worth noting that while CN does have permission to use the TV-14 rating outside of Adult Swim, it is seldom used for their programming and has usually only been used for their broadcast of theatrical films. (The only time their programming ever carried a TV-14 rating was when Adult Swim was considered a block by CN and not a separate channel. That, and I read that an episode of Hole in the Wall got the rating because one of the contestants cussed.) So CN wants to target young children more than anyone else.

Yeah, I think that their approach to target an older audience has really affected the network. In addition to the reasons above, CN had a reputation for being purely "kiddy" from the beginning of the City Era up until around 2010. Although before the 2004 rebrand, I would say that most of their programs excluding Ed, Edd 'n Eddy (which I would say is purely kiddy given the "kids being kids" concept and serious lack of adult characters) were demographic-neutral. Having grown up in the mid and late 2000s era, CN used to be my favorite channel as a kid because of how purely cartoony and kiddy it was with shows like the Ed's, Fosters, Camp Lazlo, Gym Partner, Squirrel Boy, Billy and Mandy etc. And I highly doubt I'm nostalgia-blinded; I don't think I could have enjoyed CN as much if I grew up in the 90s.

It was around mid-2008 where I noticed some changes in program content; I noticed the PG label and mature content of TDI and 6Teen. I was pretty shocked that Cartoon Network was allowed to air such content, but that didn't stop me from watching the network. However, I noticed that it kept getting more PG programs around 2010 with Adventure Time and Regular Show, and at that point I completely abandoned the network for I felt that it didn't want to target kids anymore. Regarding my previous statement of not being nostalgia-blinded, yeah, I don't think I would've enjoyed the PG shows if they aired during my childhood either; I was turned off by CN airing TDI and 6Teen back in 2008 and always changed the channel whenever those two shows came on. I didn't expect the PG content to go on for this long. I was really disturbed by the fact that a kids network was airing such edgy shows outside of AS, especially during the day. Also, do keep in mind that I was allowed by my parents to watch Adult Swim during my childhood so long as I didn't imitate anything I heard, and surprisingly none of their shows scared me, though that's probably because I knew that it was an adult oriented network and would air edgy content. No wonder I was so ashamed of CN airing PG shows outside of AS.

And yes I am aware that CN's shows before the Check IT rebrand weren't 100% clean and had some iffy content; for instance Billy and Mandy had plenty of disturbing imagery and dark humor, but it was Billy's goofy stupidity and the toilet humor that made kids like the show.

However, if there's anything that CN could do or could have done to make me accept them having PG shows on the network, it would be to air them towards the end of the day before Adult Swim starts and have a content disclaimer at the beginning of each episode; that's really ideal and something they did before with the more mature-oriented Toonami back in the day. Maybe even make a block for it called 'Big Kids Toon Time' or something like that. It disturbs me that they have the permission to air their PG shows during the day; it's just not right and overall a lack of refreshment from the edginess of Adult Swim ending at 6AM.
 

Red Arrow

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#12
@GiantWaffle: Most of CN's PG shows didn't deserve that rating whatsoever. To me it looks like you're nostalgia blind, mate.

I am about as old as you are but here they kept rerunning the old Cartoon Cartoons and I liked those waaaay more than Gym Partner etc.

Total Drama is mostly fart jokes. I bet lots of children love it.

Ratings are just random signs. Don't base your opinion on ratings...
 

I.R. Shokew

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#15
No it's not. It's not at all. Yes there were some fart jokes, but that was not what the show was all about.

And Total Drama Island was popular with every single demographic. Lots of kids and teens love it.
Except for me - unpopular opinion: Not a fan of ANYTHING Total Drama - related, save for maybe the first season. After that, it just became too repetitive for me, even despite trying to do some things different, honestly.
 

Anti-Hero 69

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#16
No it's not. It's not at all. Yes there were fart jokes, but that was not what the show was mostly about. Bet you didn't watch more than 1 episode of it.

And Total Drama Island was popular with every single demographic. Lots of kids and teens love it.
I
Except for me - unpopular opinion: Not a fan of ANYTHING Total Drama - related, save for maybe the first season. After that, it just became too repetitive for me, even despite trying to do some things different, honestly.
As a fan of Total Drama, I get where your coming from. I have more of an issue with how it gradually got more immature as the series progressed.
 

Radical Edward

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#19
Personally, I think Cartoon Network should just go whole hog and embrace digital distribution and streaming with gusto. More and more people are cutting the cord and Netflix has been doing well with original content. Maybe Turner Broadcasting could pull out of Hulu and create their own digital streaming service with their assets.
That or go the Nick route and shop around content to other streaming services. It would be cool to have a CN action show as a Netflix exclusive, considering how well shows like Voltron have been doing on there. Also, unless Hulu were to expand their reach to other countries, CN needs a more accessible and ubiquitous service to supply their content legally.