As “American Dad” heads toward its 100th episode Sunday, it’s also entering broadcast and cable syndication. The step is an important milestone in any show’s life because that’s when it really starts earning its keep.
Starting this fall, “American Dad” fans will have multiple venues for watching Seth MacFarlane’s animated hit. Besides Fox, TV stations are launching the show on weekends. On Sept. 20 cabler TBS began airing “American Dad” Mondays through Thursdays at 7:30 p.m. ET, and the network will double-run it on Fridays from 8-9 p.m. ET.
Adult Swim, which airs from 10 p.m. to 6 a.m. ET on Turner-owned Cartoon Network, started airing “American Dad” back in May 2005. The show airs in a double run on Friday nights at midnight and 12:30 a.m. ET, where it’s the top show in the timeslot among men 18-24 and men 18-34. The network will add a Sunday run in October. Next fall, TV stations will strip the show.
That “American Dad” will air both on cable and broadcast is not a coincidence.
“We were looking for an opportunity to get the show launched,” says Paul Franklin, Twentieth’s exec VP and general sales manager. “The Turner deal was going to start, and we were looking for a way to take advantage of that.”
Putting the show on TV stations on weekends allows Twentieth to do just that because it can sell national advertising in both the broadcast and cable runs.
“A concurrent cable and broadcast play allows you to maximize your barter,” explains Franklin.
Also, Twentieth believes that more exposure only helps the show.
“I’m a firm believer that people only have about 10-15 TV stations that they watch,” says Steve MacDonald, Twentieth’s exec VP and general sales manager for basic cable. “People who watch Adult Swim aren’t the same people who watch broadcast TV. It’s two different audiences. So selling a show on broadcast and on cable works very well and complements each other.”
Animation performs so well among young adults, particularly men, that Tribune is building Saturday-night animation blocks featuring “American Dad” and other animated programs from Twentieth: “The Simpsons,” “Family Guy” and “King of the Hill,” as well as Debmar-Mercury’s “South Park.”
“If you look at animation, it brings in very healthy demos,” says Sean Compton, Tribune Broadcasting’s president of programming. “When we were renewing ‘Family Guy,’ ‘American Dad’ seemed like a really good fit. I like to look at cable numbers when considering any purchase because I program both a cable network in WGN America and a broadcast group.”
To that end, animation’s performance on cable networks Adult Swim and TBS is convincing. In August, Adult Swim — which besides “American Dad” also airs “Family Guy,” “Robot Chicken” and Rob Corddry’s “Children’s Hospital” — was No. 1 among all ad-supported cable networks for total day delivery among adults 18-34, adults 18-24, men 18-34, men 18-24 and adults 18-49, and that’s airing only 10 p.m. to 6 a.m.
In January, Adult Swim will expand to 9 p.m. to further take advantage of these numbers.