Time Warner is banking on some of its oldest stars to breathe new life into a cable network that has aired only reruns over the course of its 15-year history.
Scooby-Doo first appeared on TV in 1969 and Bugs Bunny debuted in 1938 and 1940, but the company believes the two characters have enough strength in their limbs to carry a retooled version of Boomerang, the kids network that is part of Time Warner’s Turner unit, to new levels in an extremely competitive arena.
Sister unit Warner Bros. will develop 450 half-hours of original programming for Boomerang, in an agreement that marks the first time original programming has been developed exclusively for the network, which was borne out of a programming block on Turner’s Cartoon Network in the 1990s. The content will appear on all Boomerang channels worldwide and on some Cartoon Network channels internationally, along with potential crossover with Turner Broadcasting outlets like Pogo, Boing, Toonami and the U.S. version of Cartoon Network.
Time Warner in October said it would relaunch Boomerang by offering original programming while continuing to rely on vintage cartoons featuring such stars as Tom and Jerry as well as older Cartoon Network fare like “Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends.” The network is also selling advertising for the first time in its history.
Efforts to lend more wind to Boomerang reflect the furious scrum among media companies to lure the youngest viewers – kids and pre-teens – to their fare. The rise of new kinds of digital media, including subscription-video-on-demand and streaming video, has given rise to fresh habits for viewing content, many of them adopted very quickly by younger consumers.
In recent months, Walt Disney has announced a spate of new offerings featuring both characters from Disney and Lucasfilm and newer ones for its Disney Junior and Disney XD networks. NBCUniversal’s Sprout has ramped up its production of original content. And Viacom’s Nickelodeon unveiled a subscription-video-on-demand service called Noggin that burnishes older cartoons and programs.
Boomerang will in the fall launch original series from Warner Bros. Animation. “Bunnicula” is an animated comedy series based on the bestselling children’s book of the same name, and follows the adventures of Bunnicula the vampire rabbit, who drains the juice of carrots and other vegetables, not blood, to boost his supernatural abilities. “Be Cool, Scooby-Doo!” is a 22-minute animated comedy featuring the Scooby gang, who this time will work to solve personal problems as well as mind-bending mysteries. In “Wabbit – A Looney Tunes Production,” Bugs Bunny stars in all-new shorts that have him match wits with classic characters like Yosemite Sam and Wile E. Coyote, as well as new foes.
Under terms of the new agreement, Boomerang will have expanded access to series from a portfolio of content created under Hanna-Barbera, MGM and Warner Brothers Animation – a total of 3,500 titles in all.