Cartoon Network couldn’t have drawn up a better start to the new year.
After a strong finish to 2014, the Turner-owned channel is cable’s hottest kids network in 2015 — picking up steam while chief rivals Disney Channel and Nickelodeon have declined.
In January, its Thursday firstrun telecasts of animated series including “Uncle Grandpa,” “Adventure Time” and “Steven Universe” averaged nearly 2 million viewers from 6 to 8 p.m. and made the network the No. 1 destination on television for the night in all key kids demos, according to Nielsen.
Long a favorite of boys, shows like “Teen Titans Go” and “The Amazing World of Gumball” (pictured) have also brought more girls into the tent. Ratings among girls 2-11 and 6-11 in January spiked more than 50% from the previous year.
The channel’s momentum started in the second half of 2014, and in the fourth quarter, Cartoon was the only kids network to grow its overall total-day audience — rising 3% to 1.12 million viewers. Nickelodeon and Disney remained more popular overall, but they tumbled by 27% (to 1.33 million) and 23% (to 1.27 million), respectively.
Similarly, in kids 6-11, Disney (422,000) and Nickelodeon (372,000) were both down more than 20% while Cartoon (330,000) surged 15% to make it much more competitive.
In January, Cartoon was up by double digits in key kids demos while Nickelodeon tumbled 30% and Disney dropped by nearly 20%.
And Cartoon notes that head-to-head with Nickelodeon during the hours that Cartoon Network programs (6 a.m. to 8 p.m.), it has moved ahead of the Viacom-owned network to rank second for the first time in 10 years.
Perhaps one key to Cartoon’s growth is the network’s strong multiplatform performance. It ranks No. 1 on VOD among all cable networks, according to Rentrak. Also, two Cartoon Network mobile titles have reached No. 1 Top App status, and “Cartoon Network Anything,” a micro-network exclusive to the smallscreen, was named one of Google Play’s Best Apps of 2014.