×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Searching for the Next Breakout Animated Hit

Networks experiment with unconventional development schemes

“The Simpsons” began as a toon segment on “The Tracey Ullman Show,” “South Park” got its jumpstart as a viral Christmas card and “Robot Chicken” emerged out of an Internet-only precursor. So it’s long been clear that award-winning animation can be nurtured outside the traditional pilot-to-series development track.

Such once-novel routes have become commonplace. Network execs and new-media honchos have made it a priority to root out the next big hits by embracing short-form and incubating talent in-house. But the process remains an inexact science.

That’s why Cartoon Network and Adult Swim, per chief content officer Rob Sorcher, are experimenting with the CN Shorts Program to breed the next big skeins. Sorcher says the program cuts the production timeline down and allows creators to avoid foundering in “development hell.”

The current program and its former iteration, “The Cartoonstitute,” have given rise to “Uncle Grandpa,” “Adventure Time,”(pictured above) “Rick and Morty,” “Steven Universe and Clarence,” as well as the Emmy-winning “Regular Show.”

“What we’re looking for in the end is that incredible spark that we think, ‘Holy God, this could turn into a fire,’ ” Sorcher says, of the artist-led program. “We’re looking for that cookie that we haven’t tasted yet.”

Fox ADHD, an online block slated for a July 27 launch, is also hunting for that elusive cookie. But the newbie brand, according to head of programming Nick Weidenfeld, is ditching the pilot process entirely and diving six episodes deep into a series instead.

“As much as I love ‘Family Guy’ and ‘South Park,’ this generation doesn’t necessarily want something so cynical, mean and ironic,” Weidenfeld says. “The things that you think are too weird or too silly now … those are the (shows) that should be contenders, because they’re going to speak to that next audience.”

Another forward-thinking group is Mondo Media, which has already made a name for itself with its slate of subversive digital skeins such as cult hits “Happy Tree Friends,” “Deep Space 69” (pictured below) and “Dick Figures.” The company, per veep of animation development and acquisitions Aaron Simpson, digs through dozens of online videos every day.

“We’re combing through to find the voice that can cut through all the clutter,” he says.

 

More TV

  • Taskmaster - Series 9Picture shows: Taskmaster

    Originals, Streaming Drive 4% Growth in Viewing at British TV Network UKTV

    British broadcast network UKTV claimed a 4% rise in viewing last year, fueled by a spate of original programming and rapid growth for its on-demand service UKTV Play. The 4% figure refers to an increase in “Share of Commercial Impacts,” a metric broadcasters employ to quantify viewing in the digital era for their advertisers, where [...]

  • Baby Yoda The Mandalorian

    Disney Plus Set for Earlier Launch in U.K. & Western Europe

    The Walt Disney Co. has set March 24 as the new launch date for Disney Plus in the U.K. and other key markets across Western Europe. With the roll-out previously set for March 31, the streaming service will now be available a week earlier in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Austria and Switzerland. Pricing [...]

  • 9-1-1: LONE STAR: L-R: Rob Lowe

    TV Ratings: '9-1-1: Lone Star' Starts Strong Behind NFC Championship Game

    “9-1-1 Lone Star” got off to a flaming start for Fox in the TV ratings behind the NFC Championship game. The Rob Lowe-fronted series premiere to a 3.2 rating among adults 18-49 and 11.5 million viewers in the time zone-adjusted ratings, which represents easily the best scripted debut of the 2019-2020 season. “Lone Star” had [...]

  • Ariel Winograd'TOD@S CAEN' film premiere, Los

    Viacom International Studios Signs First Look Deal with Ariel Winograd (EXCLUSIVE)

    MADRID  — Adding to a powerful and still growing talent roster, Viacom International Studios (VIS) has clinched a first-look deal with Argentine writer-director Ariel Winograd whose latest movie, “The Heist of the Century,” has just become one of the biggest Argentine openers in history. The multi-year pact takes in the development and production of not [...]

  • William Bogert Dead: 'Small Wonder' Actor

    William Bogert, Who Appeared in 'War Games,' 'Small Wonder,' Dies at 83

    TV, film and theater actor William Bogert, who appeared in a recurring role on 1980s sitcom “Small Wonder” and in films such as “War Games,” died Jan. 12 in New York. He was 83. On “Small Wonder,” which ran from 1985 to 1989, Bogert played Brandon Brindle, the Lawsons’ neighbor and Harriet’s father who became [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content