The rich, young men advertisers lust after are tuning to cartoons at night this summer more than ever.
Adult Swim, Cartoon Network’s late-night block of young male-targeted animation, outperformed broadcast’s biggest late-night talk shows this summer with men 18-34 whose household incomes are above $75,000, as well as men in the age group who finished at least a year of college, according to Nielsen Media Research compiled by Turner Research.
The cartoon block, for example, drew 25% more men 18-34 in upscale homes than The Tonight Show With Jay Leno. In the same category, Adult Swim outperformed The Late Show With David Letterman by 70%, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson by 10% and Jimmy Kimmel Live! by 211%.
Among the college-educated males 18-34, it outperformed Leno by 22%, Letterman by 64%, Ferguson by 67% and Kimmel by 197%.
“We’re not talking about drug-addicted, burnt-out high-school dropouts,” said Turner's Chief Research Officer Jack Wakshlag, countering stereotypes of ‘toon viewers as boxer-clad, marijuana-smoking deadbeats. “We’re talking about upscale, educated or becoming-educated young men.”
This summer, the block also bested Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, cable’s favorite with young males, by 13% with the monied males 18-34 and 60% with the males 18-34 who’d been through a year of college.
At the end of March, Nielsen broke out Adult Swim as a distinct part-time ratings track—separate from Cartoon Network—so network executives could better show advertisers its strength in luring young males. With fan favorites in acquired series Family Guy and Futurama, the block set a record this summer for total day viewership, delivering ad-supported cable’s highest ever summer delivery of adults 18-34—an average 423,000 viewers in the demo.
The block, which runs from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m. Saturday through Thursday, is a natural for the demo because that’s one of the few times young men tend to watch TV. But late-night programming overall is one of the most profitable places in television, accounting for around $1 billion in annual ad sales.
This summer, each of the broadcast talk shows’ audiences declined since last summer with men 18-24 and men 18-34 – Late Show dropped 8% with men 18-34, The Tonight Show dropped 15%, The Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson dropped 15%, Late Night With Conan O’Brien by 11% and Last Call With Carson Daly by 11%.
Meanwhile, viewers watched an average half-hour more late-night TV in general this summer over the summer of 2000 (4.1 hours per night this summer versus 3.6 in summer of 2000).
Young males, however, aren’t those shows’ target audience – the median age of Leno and Letterman’s audience hovers around 50.