Can We Stop Calling It “Cartoon” Network Now?



The Cartoon Network in the U.S. hasn’t really been a cartoon network for some time, but now they’re making it official by moving into the production and airing of live-action reality shows and other live-action fare:

Cartoon Network announced it’s making a move into live-action programming, with six reality projects and two scripted shows in development…

—“The Othersiders,” described as a reality adventure series following five friends who explore potentially haunted locations in search of evidence of paranormal activity;
—“Survive This,” a show that challenges teens to overcome fears and develop survival skills by testing their endurance, wit and self-determination;
—“Destroy Build Destroy,” in which two teams build something from debris in a construction zone, then demolish the losing creation;
—“Head Rush,” a game show in which kids compete while on amusement park rides;
—“Dude, What Would Happen,” in which kids seek answers to over-the-top questions such as, “Dude, what would happen if you attached 350 helium balloons to a sumo wrestler?”; and
—“Bobb’e Says,” a viral video clip show starring Bobb’e J. Thompson.

One of the scripted live-action series is “Unnatural History” (working title), an action show about a teen with martial arts skills who returns to the U.S. with his parents to attend an American high school.

When CN showed a Looney Tunes marathon at the beginning of the year, some people held out hope that this might mark a return to the network’s roots as an animation channel, but it was just a false start; the network feels a need to re-brand itself as a ‘tween network to compete with Disney, Nick, and that new boy-centric network that Disney is starting up. It’s not the first time this network has re-branded itself; it previously moved from being primarily a vintage-animation channel to serving two niche audiences: little kids by day and college stoners by night (Adult Swim).

The only real significance here, especially since we don’t get CN in Canada, is that it’s another example of how re-branding is arguably even more important to cable channels than branding. Or, to put it another way: don’t get too attached to the specific brand or mission statement of a network, because the moment they see some other channel beating them, they’ll introduce a ton of new, unrelated programs into their lineup.


Can We Stop Calling It “Cartoon” Network Now?

  1. Makes perfect sense. MTV doesn’t do music; Spike almost never has Spike Lee movies, although it does sometimes have movies with spikes in them (especially the collected Predator oeuvre).

    • Right, and of course Spike TV developed out of The Nashville Network: when The Nashville Network was re-branded away from country music, the company changed it to just “TNN” and slowly re-branded it, finally redeveloping it into what became “Spike.”

    • Of course, it’s not just MTV that doesn’t do music. VH1, MuchMusic, MuchMoreMusic (lol), and MTV Canada don’t do music either.

      Is there even a channel that does music anymore?

  2. Given that it’s the Cartoon Network, shouldn’t we be referring to this as retconning the network? :P

  3. I call the History Network the “Whatever Gets Us Ratings, Cheap” Network. But I admit it doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue.

    • I kinda miss the History Channel.

      It’s just not the same now that it’s all CSI:NY and NCIS and JAG reruns (not ALL of course, but you know what I mean). I don’t even have a big problem with those shows, per se (well, I don’t have a big problem with NCIS anyway) but man. Where’s my HISTORY programming?

      I preferred the History Channel that was really the WWII Channel to the History Channel that’s really the “Reruns of American Crime Procedurals” channel.

  4. “off the tongue” -dang

  5. I’m kinda surprised that the Cartoon Network feels a need to branch into live action. I mean, “Cartoon” is kinda specific, but if you broadened it slightly to mean “Animation” (which, really, isn’t a stretch at all) isn’t there a plethora of wide ranging material you could air that would appeal to all audiences. Just how BROAD does one need to be?

    Teletoon runs all kinds of animation that’s not cartoons (just watched Akira again last month on Teletoon), and they can serve a pretty wide audience, it seems to me, while still sticking to animation.

  6. What worries me slightly is that this trend of broadening the scope of all the specialty channels will just continue forever. Sure, we live in a billion channel universe, but am I the only one concerned that in a decade or so it’ll be 999,999,978 clones of CBS, 20 channels of movies, CNN, and HBO?

  7. Surely the most misnamed channel is the Learning Network? I mean, I love L.A. Ink as much as the next fellow, but…

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