Why do you think Cartoon Network has always trailed behind Nickelodeon and Disney Channel in the viewership ratings?

HunterMon17

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This isn't a modern CN thing either, this has been a problem for them going back to like 2005. They've always been in 3rd place behind Nick and Disney.

AFAIK, the last time CN as a whole was doing number 1 in the ratings was in the Cartoon Cartoon era (c. 1999-2003), when they had Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd n Eddy, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. That's when they were at their peak. Hell, they even tried their hand at producing a theatrical PPG movie.

Ever since then, they've basically been stumbling around trying to find themselves. Sure, there's a hit show every now and then, like Adventure Time, but CN in its entirety hasn't been top dog in a very long time. Let's break down their history a little bit:

* 1999-2003: Peak. Viewership at its highest with Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, giving Nick and Disney a run for their money with hits like PPG and Dexter's Lab.
* 2003-2007: Twiddling their thumbs trying to find their next big hit. Lots of shows that don't become hugely popular, some with fandoms (Foster's, Camp Lazlo), and some despised (Squirrel Boy, MGPAM). Ben 10 sells many toys, but that's it.
* 2007-2011: Live-action experimentation as a mark of desperation. Many of the good cartoons end.
* 2011-2015: Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball, and Steven Universe gain huge fandoms, but CN still never tops ratings charts. Many action cartoons canceled over merchandise.

* 2015-2021: Another thumb twiddling period. AT fandom fandoms largely lose interest, TTG and Gumball dominates the schedule 24/7, and crappy reboots dominate the schedule. Target demographics go down from 6-14 to 6-11.

2021-present: Another period of experimentation. Preschool block to be added during the fall, with more focus on girls and families is coming as well. Actual CN is reduced to 6 hours a day (2p-8p).

You see what I mean? Ever since they lost the Cartoon Cartoons, it feels like CN as a whole has nothing over the competition (Nick and Disney) and will always trail behind in 3rd place, so they keep experimenting with all kinds of random stuff just to see what'll catch on. Why are they like this?
 

The Overlord

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This isn't a modern CN thing either, this has been a problem for them going back to like 2005. They've always been in 3rd place behind Nick and Disney.

AFAIK, the last time CN as a whole was doing number 1 in the ratings was in the Cartoon Cartoon era (c. 1999-2003), when they had Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd n Eddy, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. That's when they were at their peak. Hell, they even tried their hand at producing a theatrical PPG movie.

Ever since then, they've basically been stumbling around trying to find themselves. Sure, there's a hit show every now and then, like Adventure Time, but CN in its entirety hasn't been top dog in a very long time. Let's break down their history a little bit:

* 1999-2003: Peak. Viewership at its highest with Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, giving Nick and Disney a run for their money with hits like PPG and Dexter's Lab.
* 2003-2007: Twiddling their thumbs trying to find their next big hit. Lots of shows that don't become hugely popular, some with fandoms (Foster's, Camp Lazlo), and some despised (Squirrel Boy, MGPAM). Ben 10 sells many toys, but that's it.
* 2007-2011: Live-action experimentation as a mark of desperation. Many of the good cartoons end.
* 2011-2015: Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball, and Steven Universe gain huge fandoms, but CN still never tops ratings charts. Many action cartoons canceled over merchandise.

* 2015-2021: Another thumb twiddling period. AT fandom fandoms largely lose interest, TTG and Gumball dominates the schedule 24/7, and crappy reboots dominate the schedule. Target demographics go down from 6-14 to 6-11.

2021-present: Another period of experimentation. Preschool block to be added during the fall, with more focus on girls and families is coming as well. Actual CN is reduced to 6 hours a day (2p-8p).

You see what I mean? Ever since they lost the Cartoon Cartoons, it feels like CN as a whole has nothing over the competition (Nick and Disney) and will always trail behind in 3rd place, so they keep experimenting with all kinds of random stuff just to see what'll catch on. Why are they like this?

Does this even matter anymore, Nickelodeon has seen its ratings nosedive in recent years:


Heck, all the kids channels have:


Kids will watch more stuff online than they will on their TV. I feel like TV ratings for kids channels will soon become irrelevant.
 

whoisretro

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Does this even matter anymore, Nickelodeon has seen its ratings nosedive in recent years:


Heck, all the kids channels have:


Kids will watch more stuff online than they will on their TV. I feel like TV ratings for kids channels will soon become irrelevant.

Well this isn't really tell whole picture despite their ratings decline Nickelodeon still has some most popular shows with kids whether they're watching it on the channel or somewhere else (SpongeBob, PAW Patrol, Blue's Clues, Loud House, etc) so despite their ratings Nick can still make shows super popular with kids same with Disney Channel (Big City Greens, Raven's Home, BUNK'D are really popular with kids for example).
 

The Overlord

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Well this isn't really tell whole picture despite their ratings decline Nickelodeon still has some most popular shows with kids whether they're watching it on the channel or somewhere else (SpongeBob, PAW Patrol, Blue's Clues, Loud House, etc) so despite their ratings Nick can still make shows super popular with kids same with Disney Channel (Big City Greens, Raven's Home, BUNK'D are really popular with kids for example).

And how many kids watch Nickelodeon over Netflix or an unboxing video on YouTube?

To try to get the best ratings as kids channel is akin to trying to be king of a dying kingdom. For this next generation kids after this one, the idea of not being able to watch whatever they want whenever they want will be alien to them.
 

whoisretro

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And how many kids watch Nickelodeon over Netflix or an unboxing video on YouTube?

To try to get the best ratings as kids channel is akin to trying to be king of a dying kingdom. For this next generation kids after this one, the idea of not being able to watch whatever they want whenever they want will be alien to them.

Yeah ratings are in definitely in decline but what I meant was that kids still know Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and CN and a lot of there current shows whether watching it on the channel or somewhere else. Like YouTube for example clips of SpongeBob, Big City Greens, Teen Titans GO!, etc still thousands to millions of views meaning kids are still watching their shows just elsewhere.
 

The Overlord

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Yeah ratings are in definitely in decline but what I meant was that kids still know Nickelodeon, Disney Channel and CN and a lot of there current shows whether watching it on the channel or somewhere else. Like YouTube for example clips of SpongeBob, Big City Greens, Teen Titans GO!, etc still thousands to millions of views meaning kids are still watching their shows just elsewhere.

The content still matters, but the TV ratings themselves are becoming irrelevant. Whether Cartoon Network gets better or worse ratings than Nickelodeon will soon be irrelevant, it will matter who can make the more popular streaming content, these channels themselves will go the way of the VCR soon enough.
 

whoisretro

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This isn't a modern CN thing either, this has been a problem for them going back to like 2005. They've always been in 3rd place behind Nick and Disney.

AFAIK, the last time CN as a whole was doing number 1 in the ratings was in the Cartoon Cartoon era (c. 1999-2003), when they had Powerpuff Girls, Dexter's Laboratory, Johnny Bravo, Ed, Edd n Eddy, and Courage the Cowardly Dog. That's when they were at their peak. Hell, they even tried their hand at producing a theatrical PPG movie.

Ever since then, they've basically been stumbling around trying to find themselves. Sure, there's a hit show every now and then, like Adventure Time, but CN in its entirety hasn't been top dog in a very long time. Let's break down their history a little bit:

* 1999-2003: Peak. Viewership at its highest with Cartoon Cartoon Fridays, giving Nick and Disney a run for their money with hits like PPG and Dexter's Lab.
* 2003-2007: Twiddling their thumbs trying to find their next big hit. Lots of shows that don't become hugely popular, some with fandoms (Foster's, Camp Lazlo), and some despised (Squirrel Boy, MGPAM). Ben 10 sells many toys, but that's it.
* 2007-2011: Live-action experimentation as a mark of desperation. Many of the good cartoons end.
* 2011-2015: Adventure Time, Regular Show, Gumball, and Steven Universe gain huge fandoms, but CN still never tops ratings charts. Many action cartoons canceled over merchandise.

* 2015-2021: Another thumb twiddling period. AT fandom fandoms largely lose interest, TTG and Gumball dominates the schedule 24/7, and crappy reboots dominate the schedule. Target demographics go down from 6-14 to 6-11.

2021-present: Another period of experimentation. Preschool block to be added during the fall, with more focus on girls and families is coming as well. Actual CN is reduced to 6 hours a day (2p-8p).

You see what I mean? Ever since they lost the Cartoon Cartoons, it feels like CN as a whole has nothing over the competition (Nick and Disney) and will always trail behind in 3rd place, so they keep experimenting with all kinds of random stuff just to see what'll catch on. Why are they like this?

To answer the question of the thread I think it's because they've only really appealed to one demo, boys (the current president of CN even said this himself in that recent interview). I think with them branching out to different demos I think they're ratings will rise and more people will watch or at least they'll be better than they are now.
 
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Darklordavaitor

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Someone has to be third place, and Cartoon Network was the last of the "big 3" to launch. There's more to it than that (there almost always is), but the channel not having as much time to establish themselves and find the audience Nickelodeon did over the years, nor has the marquee name Disney entails, is a big part of it.
 

TheMisterManGuy

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Someone has to be third place, and Cartoon Network was the last of the "big 3" to launch. There's more to it than that (there almost always is), but the channel not having as much time to establish themselves and find the audience Nickelodeon did over the years, nor has the marquee name Disney entails, is a big part of it.
Plus the network is focused on animation, which had given it more of a niche appeal than Nick or Disney, who targeted more mainstream audiences with a wider variety of shows, including live-action. Cartoon Network tried to compete with Nick and Disney with Out of Jimmy's Head and CN Real, both those failed hard.
 

ShadowBeast

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Plus the network is focused on animation, which had given it more of a niche appeal than Nick or Disney, who targeted more mainstream audiences with a wider variety of shows, including live-action. Cartoon Network tried to compete with Nick and Disney with Out of Jimmy's Head and CN Real, both those failed hard.
But to be fair, those shows mostly failed because people didn't like the idea of coming to a channel for cartoons and not seeing a cartoon being shown. It's like going to a sports channel and seeing a reality show on instead.
 

Raki

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I agree with the previous comment, CN was the last from the three channels
I didn't get it until 2002. Disney was a premium until much later and Nick was widely available. But streaming probably plays a huge role plus all the constant changes mentioned here.
 

RegularCapital

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Different countries have different tastes, animation has a broader international appeal (and prefer locally produced live-action rather than it being dubbed), which is why Cartoon Network is number one pay-TV kids channel (ages 6-11) in most parts of the world outside the United States. But yet, someone has to be third or last place.

In the U.S., I would say kids like live-action and animation equally, what CN was lacking compared to its competitors is appealing to girls and also pre-schoolers, the new CN management has realised this, they also probably felt that they needed to do something as they now also have to provide originals to the HBO Max streaming service, which means less content airing on the channel.

With streaming now being a popular form of watching shows, saying that you're the number one kids channel is like saying you're a team that usually finishes off each season in the middle of the league table, you need both linear and streaming to be a top table team.

Linear is important because you give a date and time for a premiere of an episode which people anticipate for rather than dumping it (and in some cases a whole season) at 4am in the morning and also because of the social media aspect of everyone watching the episode at the same time, and streaming is important because of its freedom and flexibility.
 
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Red Arrow

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Most likely due to being a younger network than Nick and Disney Channel as well as only appealing to one specific demographic
I don't think many children or even young parents realize that Cartoon Network is less old than Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.
 
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whoisretro

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I don't think many children or even young parents realize that Cartoon Network is less old than Nickelodeon and Disney Channel.

He probably means that CN had less time to build up an audience than Nick and Disney Channel, Nick was the first kids network so they had lots of time to build their audience up and by 1992 when CN launched they were already a household name and for Disney Channel they didn't really have to do much but make content since the Disney name is there people will watch.
 

Red Arrow

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He probably means that CN had less time to build up an audience than Nick and Disney Channel, Nick was the first kids network so they had lots of time to build their audience up and by 1992 when CN launched they were already a household name and for Disney Channel they didn't really have to do much but make content since the Disney name is there people will watch.
Kids networks don't build up audiences. They constantly have to start from scratch because their audience grows up.

I really don't think there are American children who watch Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, but not Cartoon Network "because they don't know Cartoon Network".
 

Fone Bone

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Cartoon Network seems to really only focus on school-age boys. They are limiting their viewership to half of what it could be by doing that. No preschool line-up until now also hasn't helped.
 

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