It certainly appears that the newly formed AOL/Time Warner is determined to achieve corporate synergy among its many disparate elements. Though the Turner Broadcasting units have been under the same corporate umbrella as the WB Network for several years, it is only since Time Warner's acquisition by AOL that the WB (or 'The Frog' as it is known in deference to its mascot, Michigan J. Frog) and Turner Broadcasting (which includes the Cartoon Network, TNT, TBS) have been combined into one broadcasting unit now known as The Turner Broadcasting System. The combined networks are now under the direction of Jamie Kellner, the founder and CEO of the WB network.
The most likely first visible effect of the merger could be an exchange of programming, with some series popping up on both Kids' WB and the Cartoon Network, for example. Since the WB is an over-the-air broadcast network in most major markets, the overlap with the Turner Cable stations like the Cartoon Network is not as great as one might think.
The Cartoon Network
Why would the Cartoon Network want the Kids' WB cartoon programming? Quite possibly because the popular Toonami anime block (see 'Toonami Ratings Soar') might just get spun off into its own 'Toonami Network.' This would allow the Cartoon Network to avoid having to censor the kind of action/adventure anime that appeal to the older, teenage demographic that the Toonami block attracts. The Cartoon Network and Kids' WB (which is number one on Saturday morning with kids 6-11) would concentrate on younger audiences and could swap programs back and forth to make up for the departure of the Toonami block from The Cartoon Network. Freed from its close association with kiddie cartoons, the 'Toonami Network' could pursue its fast-growing (132% in the last year) teenage fan base. Though widely rumored, no official word about the launch of a 'Toonami Network' has been announced. However, Jamie Kellner, who now runs the whole show at the merged Turner Broadcasting System, is quite expert at launching new networks, and he has announced that creating new networks was a priority. It is difficult to imagine a better opportunity to do so than with a 'Toonami Network.'
The Kids' WB recently announced its schedule for 2001-2002. The Saturday morning lineup includes returning heavyweights Pokemon (2 half-hour shows), and X-Men Evolution, plus three new series, The Mummy, Cubix, and The Nightmare Room (based on the works of R.L. Stine). Weekdays will feature Batman Beyond at 7 am, and a weekday afternoon schedule that includes Cardcaptors, two half-hours of Pokemon, and Jackie Chan Adventures. The Kids' WB is the leader among viewers under age eleven, and the lineup for this year demonstrates that they are aiming squarely at that same demographic once again.