The Cartoon Network Era (1992 - Present)

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Do you want to know my age, without asking directly? Just ask for my favorite cartoon show! Now guess my age :cool: Cartoons were made in different eras, and their childhood impact and cultural effects last forever. Today we look at Cartoon Network’s era and how it shaped us.

It is now 27 years since its launch; Cartoon Network remains the staple of kids all over the world. It is among the most innovative companies in the world.

I could sing along almost all the theme songs of the shows from Cartoon Network. Let take a walk down memory lane and explore the era of the Cartoon Network, who is behind this great company? How did they manage to remain among the top cartoon companies despite the competition?

In this article, we will also explore some of the top cartoon shows that were aired back in the ’90s and partly around the 2000s.

History of Cartoon Network
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Cartoon Network is a Warner Bros-owned American cable TV network. It falls in the WarnerMedia division. The channel started on October 1, 1992 and broadcasted mainly animated TV shows, predominantly programming for children, ranging from action to animated comedy.

For a long time, the target age for Cartoon Network has remained focused on children aged 7 to 15 years old. But we have been seeing the demographic expanding recently with Adult targeted content. This is still a controversial topic that is still being debated by many agencies.

The overnight Adult Swim block is for young adults, is being treated as a separated promotional entity by Nielsen channel. It is mainly for rating purposes. It is available in Spanish-language though the secondary audio programming (SAP).

The Cartoon Network is open to over 89,212 million Pay-TV households in America (Statistics, 2018). This figure should have increased now since the company has been expanding. Plus, with the current pandemic, many children are at home, definitely, the subscriptions for Cartoon network must have tripled.

How did Cartoon Network Come to be?

Back in 1986, Ted Turner’s Turner broadcasting system acquired Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. In October of the same year, due to debt issues, Turner was forced to sell MGM after only 75 days of ownership. He sold the company back to Kerkorian but maintained a large part of MGM’s film and TV library and some United Artists Library. He later moved on and created the Turner Entertainment Co.

Turner’s animation collection included the MGM cartoon archive, the pre-1948 color Looney Tunes, and Merrie Melodies films, the Harman-ising Merrie Melodies show, and the Popeye C from Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios, as well as the cable channel Turner Network TV. The had a massive viewership from the beginning.

Later on, in 1991, Turner won the auction for the acquisition of the Hanna-Barbera Production at $320 million. Turner was ahead of bidders like MCA inc. (who are the owner of Universal Studios) and Hallmark Cards.

In 1992, Turner revealed that it planned to launch the Cartoon Networks as an outlet for Turner’s vast animation library. And that is where the actual Cartoon network journey started.

It was estimated that when the channel launched, it had roughly 8,500 hours of cartoons that it could show. It was so many cartoons that there was even a show “Cartoon Network on TNT” that showed some of them and generated attention to the new cable channel.

While there were many highlights in the first three years (Remember the Toonheads show?), here are a few milestones from the first three years that some people don’t remember today. Hopefully, some of these items will spark some fond memories of fumbling with videotapes to record favorites.

The Cartoon Network Timeline

October 1992 – The Cartoon Network Launched to the end of Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture. There was a special event known as the Droopy Guide to the Cartoon Network that was hosted by the MGM cartoonist Droopy. It featured Rhapsody Rabbit, which was the first cartoon on the network.

After the network’s debut, Cartoon Network also featured a program block that contained its cartoons, called Cartoon Network on TNT that was broadcast on TNT. Cartoon Network was launched to over 2Million homes.
January 1993 Cartoon Network is #1 in basic cable in time spent viewing levels (which means the network has cable’s most loyal audience)

April 30, 1993, Cartoon Network Latin America launches in English, Spanish and Portuguese

May 29, 1993 TV Guide Cheers Cartoon Network as Race Bannon wins “Favorite Cartoon Mom” contest, beating out Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson

June 13, 1993, First time Cartoon Network becomes #1 rated basic cable network for all-day “June Bugs” marathon
June 1993 Cartoon Network signs first major licensee — H.H. Cutler

September 17, 1993 TNT/Cartoon Europe launches in 15 million homes

September 26, 1993 Martin Short hosts Ed Grimley marathon – reprising Ed Grimley TV role exclusively for Cartoon Network
October 2-3, 1993 First birthday promotion generates 250,000 phone calls from excited viewers
November 26, 1993 “Great International Toon-In” Moxy debuts as a first live computer-generated cartoon. Cartoon Network leads all six Turner Entertainment networks in first-ever worldwide combined programming events.
January 12, 1994 “World Premiere Toons” project announced — joint venture with Hanna-Barbera in first-ever worldwide combined programming event.

April 2, 1994 Cartoon Network launches on fastest-growing computer on-line service, America OnLine and kicks off via a national on-line conference with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera

April 15, 1994 Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the first talk show hosted by a cartoon superhero debuts with great press

May 7, 1994 Flagstones, the never-before-seen Flintstones pilot, world premieres on Cartoon Network – story generates massive local, national and international press coverage.

May 19-22 TV history is made when all 167 Flintstone episodes run back-to-back on Cartoon Network
October 1, 1994 Cartoon Network turns two years old with 11.7 million subscribers – a 485% increase in distribution in just two years.

January 1995 Scooby-Doo wins first annual “Dog Bowl”

February 1995 World Premiere Toon-In airs on TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network simultaneously. “Powerpuff Girls Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins” is first World Premiere Toon to air

Summer 1995 Dive-in Theater and Cool Toons Mobile tour country. At Dive-in Theater, fans saw exclusive poolside screenings of new World Premiere Toons on a giant television. The Cool Toons Mobile gave away free snow cones while kids watched World Premiere Toons from one of two 36-inch monitors on the truck.

June 1995 435,000 people visit Cartoon Network On-line, a 300% increase since March 1995
June 1995 “Dexter’s Laboratory” is nominated for an Emmy

August 1995 Cartoon Network announces “Dexter’s Laboratory” as first World Premiere Toon that will be made into a series to premiere in 1996

August 1995 590,000 people visit Cartoon Network On-line

October 1, 1995 Cartoon Network turns three years old with 22 million viewers.

Final Word

Cartoon Network has come along way. Watching the video of the launch and Turner’s announcement brings a nostalgic feeling that cannot be explained. It’s like travelling in a time machine back to October of 1992.

Luckily, Cartoon Network has continued giving kids and adults the best since its launch. I remember watching Late Night Black and White on Boomerang around 2007-ish, and they would play B&W Merrie Melodies, Captain and The Kids, the two Count Screw loose cartoons, as well as Black and White Popeye shows.

I think when we were younger, everything was newer and cooler because they were scarce back then. It was around that time that almost everything was being invented. Today, technology has changed everything. Nowadays things are moving faster, you often miss the thrill.
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Omega Geeze
Jul 13, 2019
Fantastically written! CartoonNetwork was a huge part of my childhood and I freaking love all my memories watching it!