Toonet nears 40 mil subs

Cable’s Cartoon Network announced Tuesday that it is a mere 241,000 subscribers short of hitting the 40 million figure, thanks to the pickup of a whopping 8 million subs over the past month, 85% of them from Tele-Communications Inc. cable systems that have dropped established services to make room for the channel.

According to Nielsen, Cartoon Network’s projected subscriber total for February is 39,759,000 — nearly double the 20 million subs the Time Warner-Turner service boasted a mere 18 months ago.

Sources said that better than 7 million of the subscribers added over the past month came from TCI systems. TCI owns a 9% stake in Time Warner. To create the distribution space for Cartoon Network, the cable giant has axed such networks as E! Entertainment Television, Comedy Central and WGN on many systems nationally.

Cartoon Network was added in January to TCI systems in Los Angeles, Tucson, San Francisco, San Jose, Denver (where it may again get bumped by TCI’s planned reinstatement of MTV and VH1), Baltimore and Boise.

With the dramatically increased penetration, the network’s ratings have steadily increased, growing 43% year-to-year in January among kids aged 2-11 and 64% in total household delivery.

“Cartoon Network” has become a ‘must-carry’ service,” said Carter Maguire, executive VP, sales, at Turner Networks. “Operators have responded to their customers by adding one of the strongest brands on television.”

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