Cartoon Network and president of Swim Adult Michael Ouweleen many questions have rightly been asked about the future of the animation networks since the inception of the Warner Bros. Discovery era. He recently spoke to Variety about how things have changed and I’m really impressed with how he’s going about everything.
First of all, the networks are alive and kicking. While there was much speculation about Cartoon Network’s death following the decision to separate Cartoon Network Studios and Warner Bros. Animation into one entity, Ouweleen has assured us that not only are they alive and well, but also: more stuff coming next year than this year”. That said, some cancellations were inevitable, as was the fate of Tuca and Bertie which Adult Swim saved after Netflix canceled it. Although it was dropped, I think Ouweleen has a really good attitude about maintaining good relationships with creators when he said:
I was glad we could give it two more seasons and let that thing evolve in front of people… … We’re not about to cancel any shows. It’s just that we need to allocate the money we have in ways that we believe will have the greatest impact and please the most people. You want to keep those creative relationships with people and see what else you can do.
With HBO Max canceling countless animation projects and essentially getting out of the kids and family business, it’s up to Cartoon Network and Adult Swim to pick up the slack and provide new shows for those who still love animated shows. Ouweleen says that the plan to compete with Disney in the field of kids and family has been scrapped. As a result, the new plan is a return to form for Cartoon Network. This is the most exciting part for me, it sounds like Cartoon Network is striving to get back to the kind of programming it had when I was a kid. Not just children’s programming, but animation that appeals to a wide range of tastes and target groups. As Oldie says,
When I joined the network [in 1996], in our opinion it was not a children’s network, it was an animation network … … We said it was for a psychographic, not a demographic. The best animation works on a few levels and works for a number of different audiences at the same time. And I think that’s what Cartoon Network is actually returning to.
I think the assignment for us now is to get back to the best animation in Cartoon and Adult Swim, and serve the audience that’s still out there, starting with linear, which is mature.
Quotes like this help reassure me that the network is in the right hands. Animation is a wonderful medium that can be used to tell a lot of different stories, not just for kids, but for everyone. Ouweleen likes to point out shows Adventure Time as a brand pointer for the future network. Recognizing that more than just kids enjoy animation helps to make way for more creators and more creativity in the field. Ouweleen has run Cartoon Network long enough to know what animation can be and thankfully now has a bigger name for adult animation Rick and Morty to refer to to show people that animation can be just as popular and profitable as live action shows. In his words:
When we stop thinking of Cartoon Network as just living and dying based on kids’ earnings, it actually gives us the freedom to do more things and delve into what our core has always been, which is, let’s get on with what the animation art form can do , and create iconic things
This interview that de Ouweleen has done with Variety is heartwarming. Not only is the network clearly not going anywhere, it sounds like it will be allowed to become what Cartoon Network was always meant to be: an animation channel that appeals to all age groups. I love animation, the kind of stories told in it are great and definitely shouldn’t be seen as just for kids. I’m curious to see what will come out of the network in the future.