Adult Swim Puts Episodes on Web

Sep 5, 2005  •  Post A Comment

Fans wishing for an Adult Swim fix on Friday nights will be able to find it on the Internet starting later this month.

Episodes of at least seven of Cartoon Network’s Adult Swim programs will be available at adultswim.com on Fridays, a night when Cartoon Network runs kids shows. Some episodes will be premiered on the Web, including an episode of “Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law” on Sept. 16, the first night the Friday Night Fix will be available.

The network’s strategy is to keep viewers hooked on Adult Swim an extra night. Although it has not yet signed any sponsors, Cartoon Network plans to put a commercial at the beginning of each program stream. While raising revenue that way is desirable, Cartoon Network General Manager Jim Samples said he also expects the Web presence to help build viewership for the cable channel, boosting advertising rates through higher ratings.

The programs will be available only during Adult Swim’s normal hours of 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.

Mr. Samples said Adult Swim fans are active on the Internet. “One of the things they frequently comment on is why aren’t we on Friday nights,” he said.

Adultswim.com already attracts 1 million unique visitors a month, Mr. Samples said. With the addition of programming on Fridays, he expects that number to rise quickly to 2 million.

“More than half of our viewers have broadband access, so it seemed like a natural,” he said. “I think our most avid fans are the ones who will be seeing this out, and they’ll become marketers for us.”

Traditionally, cable operators have wanted to keep the programming they pay for exclusively on cable. But Coleman Breland, executive VP of sales and marketing for Turner Network Sales, said that putting a night’s worth of programming online will help operators sell broadband access.

The network has already partnered with operators on promotions that involved putting video content on the Web that have been very successful, he said. “From an operator point of view, it’s about getting new broadband subscribers and keeping that subscriber on a monthly basis.”

But no operators have been asked to partner with Adult Swim to launch the Friday Night Fix. Nor have any advertisers been approached.

“This is new and experimental. I’d prefer to go back to partners after we know what the behavior is going to be,” Mr. Sample said.

Episodes that premiere on the Internet will be shown on cable the following Sunday. But the scheduling of other episodes will follow different patterns. “We don’t want to replicate Sunday’s programming on Friday,” Mr. Samples said.

The Friday Night Fix will include such shows as “Aqua Teen Hunger Force,” “Robot Chicken,” “Sealab 2021,” “Stroker & Hoop” and “Boondocks.”

Cartoon Network can put its shows on the Internet because it owns them, Mr. Samples said.

He said he does not expect to see television content migrating to the Internet to a great extent. “The content [that goes to the Internet] will be content that makes sense,” he said, pointing to short-form animation built for broadband delivery. “It’s not trying to repeat a television experience. There will be some, but it’s not about just porting it over.”

Since its launch in 2001, Adult Swim has expanded to run Saturday through Thursday. It attracts an audience of young men 18 to 34 and beats nearly all of the competition, including the broadcast networks, in that demographic in its time slots.