Cartoon Network has set the program schedule for its retro
spinoff channel, Boomerang, which it will begin pitching to cable operators at the Western
Show in Los Angeles this week.
Boomerang -- a 24-hour animation channel featuring classic
characters from the Hanna-Barbera Inc. library -- will debut April Fool's Day (April 1).
Officials at Turner Broadcasting System Inc., Cartoon's parent, are offering Boomerang for
digital and analog carriage.
Boomerang senior vice president and general manager Mark
Norman said the spinoff's license-fee structure won't penalize cable operators that opt to
carry the new network as a digital service.
Turner declined to comment on Boomerang's rate card. But
sources said Turner will offer one or two years of free carriage for Boomerang, followed
by a monthly per-subscriber license fee in the three- to five-cent range.
Turner and Cartoon will make formal presentations to MSOs
at the show here, and the new network will have a presence at Turner's booth.
In terms of Boomerang's program lineup, each day during the
week, it will spotlight two different classic cartoon characters, dedicating three-hour
program blocks to each. For example, one day, Yogi Bear may be featured from 8 a.m. to 11
a.m. and Popeye from noon to 3 p.m.
In addition, Boomerang is stripping four half-hour series
on weekdays. The series will air 11 a.m. to noon and 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., Monday through
Boomerang is trying to mimic Cartoon's success with
single-character program blocks, called "Super Chunk," that air on Saturdays,
according to Norman. "That way of scheduling has been very successful for us,"
Boomerang also wanted to offer viewers more traditional
stripped programming -- appointment viewing for a specific series at a specific time each
day -- Norman added.
On Saturdays, Boomerang will devote its schedule to
cartoons that were created or aired during a particular year, such as 1963. On Sundays,
the network's schedule will be dedicated to action-adventure animation shows, such as The
Centurians, as well as a three-hour block devoted to a single action-adventure
character, such as Jonny Quest.
Each day's eight-hour block schedule will repeat twice on
Boomerang during a 24-hour period.
Boomerang will also get plenty of cross-promotion on
Cartoon, which currently airs one hour of classic Boomerang-type programming from 8 a.m.
to 9 a.m. Sundays. After Boomerang launches, that block will be expanded to two hours.
"We have a Boomerang franchise on Cartoon, which we
can use to promote Boomerang to 60 million homes," Norman said.
Boomerang won't carry national advertising until it hits
critical mass in terms of distribution, according to Norman. But it will give cable
operators two minutes of local avails per hour right out of the gate, he said.
Boomerang will have a totally different look from Cartoon
-- one that will employ updated versions of toys and products, such as lunch boxes, based
on the cartoon characters baby boomers can relate to.
Boomerang will compete for carriage with Disney Channel's
animation channel, Toon Disney, which currently reaches 15 million homes.