New York -- Coming off a strong 1998, Cartoon Network is
planning several programming and marketing moves to help continue its momentum into 1999.
The network, which has 55.3 million subscribers, will
expand its lineup of original programming with the launch of three new half-hour animated
series this year. Those are: Courage the Cowardly Dog; Mike, Lu and Og; and I
Am Weasel, said Rob Sorcher, executive vice president of Cartoon, at a briefing on the
new lineup here last week.
In addition, the network has ordered more than 75 new
episodes of such signature original series as Johnny Bravo; The Powerpuff Girls;
Dexter's Laboratory; Cow and Chicken; Ed, Edd and Eddy; and Space
Ghost, Sorcher said.
Cartoon will also boost its acquired programming lineup.
The network has retained the exclusive cable-network rights to the Looney Tunes
cartoon library, as well as to 102 episodes of Steven Spielberg Presents Tiny Toon
Adventures, he added.
The network is hoping that the programming changes will
help it to continue its impressive 1998 ratings and reach growth.
The network increased its total-day household delivery by
28 percent compared with 1997, making it the fastest-growing ad-supported network for the
year. Also, Cartoon boosted its ratings for kids aged six to 11 by 39 percent, said Joe
Uva, president of entertainment sales and marketing for Turner Broadcasting Sales Inc.
Overall, the network increased its ratings by 15 percent,
to a 1.5, according to Nielsen Media Research figures.
The ratings increase was paced by the strong performance of
the network's Cartoon Theatre series, as well as the premiere of ThePowerpuff
Girls, which, at a 2.1, posted the highest rating ever for the premiere of a Cartoon
original, the network said.
Sorcher said the company will continue to use its signature
cartoon characters and series to further promote the Cartoon brand in a number of
marketing ads and retail tie-in promotions throughout the year.
Ted Turner, chairman of Time Warner Inc., Cartoon's
parent company, said he was encouraged with the progress of the seven-year-old network,
which is battling for the lion's share of children viewers in a crowded marketplace
that includes kids'-programming powerhouse Nickelodeon.
"I couldn't be prouder," said Turner, who
founded the network in 1992.