Looking to emulate Nickelodeon's success in taking time on sister network CBS, The Cartoon Network and the Kids' WB are planning to integrate programming and cross-promotions.
Likewise, such WB hits as Felicity, Charmed or the new Superman-as-a-youth drama, Smallville, will probably get second windows at TNT, which, like The WB, is now part of AOL Time Warner.
The cooperation does not go as far as Viacom's CBS did last fall by surrendering its Saturday mornings to kids cable network Nickelodeon. But AOL Time Warner units WB and Cartoon are expecting to rely on each other to pitch each other's shows.
"We'll host premieres of Cartoon Network shows on Kids' WB and their shows on our network to build a larger audience and give viewers more choice," said Tim Hall, Cartoon Network's executive vice president. The WB confirmed the evolving relationship. Cartoon Network and Kids' WB have only a 25% crossover in viewers—leaving a large, unduplicated audience to share, he said.
At the same time, Brad Turell, a spokesman for Turner Broadcasting, said it's likely TNT will cherry-pick some shows from The WB for a second showing, probably on Monday and Tuesday nights.
Those second broadcasts would be scheduled for 10 p.m. ET, after The WB's schedule ends for the evening. Because of contractual arrangements and other matters, a likely first candidate would be Charmed, which just got a long-term renewal from The WB.
The plans are, of course, more evidence of the blurring line between broadcast and cable networks. NBC shares news resources and talent with MSNBC. Walt Disney's ABC and Lifetime share dramas. And the new chairman of AOL's Turner Broadcasting System, Jamie Kellner, was chosen in part to get all the Turner and Warner Bros. companies to work on such synergies.
Last fall, at Viacom, Nickelodeon started putting its Nick Jr. program blocks aimed at younger children on CBS' Saturday morning, boosting ratings more than 200%.
Both The WB and Cartoon Network are strong in the overall 6-11 core demographic. The Kids' WB skews more female and is very strong on Saturdays.
Cartoon Network's strength is its late-afternoon action-and-adventure "Toonami" block, which in April posted a 1.2 overall Nielsen rating of 849,000 households and 2.4 ratings among boys 9-14. For its Saturday- morning block in April, The WB harvested a 2.7 rating for the 2-11 demographic in 1,080,000 households and a 4.9 rating in 608,000 households for its target of boys 6-11.
One example of integrating the channels' programming is Cartoon Network's upcoming show Samurai Jack. The first three episodes will premiere in August back-to-back as a movie. Then, for the next three Saturdays, the individual episodes will appear on the Kids' WB. "This reaches the audience they have cultivated and lets them sample our show for a limited time," Hall said.
Before the Kids' WB introduction of Cardcaptors in June, a limited number of earlier episodes will appear on Cartoon Network.
Promotional tie-ins will try to drive viewers between popular programming blocks. Kids' WB after-school shows will feature the Cartoon Network's prime time Toonami branding, which has a special host character and graphics. On Friday evenings, Cartoon Network will air a half-hour preview of Kids' WB programming.
—Additional reporting by Joe Schlosser