Turner Broadcasting's announcement last month that it will split Adult Swim from Cartoon Network for ratings purposes as of the end of this month cements a strategy that began last year to cluster programming that appealed to kids on weekdays (e.g., the Miguzi block), to tweens in the Saturday afternoon Toonami block, and to adults in the overnight Adult Swim block. Ratings will now be reported for two separate ad-supported basic cable television networks -- Cartoon Network and Adult Swim -- which will be carried on the same channels in different dayparts. Adult Swim programming currently runs from 11 p.m to 6 a.m. six nights a week.
Cartoon Network already reports Adult Swim's info as a programming block in its over-all ratings. As a separate entity, Adult Swim will be a formidable network, with #1 ratings in its time period on basic cable among adults 18-34, and 11 of the top 50 ad-supported cable programs among adults 18-34 (February).
The impact for retailers has been from the changed mix of programming, which strongly influences sales of manga, anime DVDs, CCGs, toys, and other products. For example, when Cartoon Network started showing weekday Teen Titans Go as part of its weekday programming, it impacts on positively on sales of Teen Titans toys, but mechandise associated with the anime programming that the Miguzi block replaced is negatively affected (unless those shows pick up similar ratings points in another venue). And the Adult Swim block has become the biggest block of programming time for anime for adults.
On a bigger scale, this move indicates that Cartoon Network/Adult Swim's basic programming structure, and the degree of emphasis on animation for adults, is unlikely to change in the near term, a good thing for retailers selling animation-based products to that audience.
Nielsen will begin reporting Adult Swim as a separate network on March 28th.