U.S. kids cable net Cartoon Network has begun adding reality to its roster, and it’s open to more. Realscreen spoke with its VP of original series, Rob Swartz, about why factual programs have made their way onto Cartoon Network, and what reality programming works for its audience.
Why did the Cartoon Network decide to add reality and factual to its programming strategy?
It’s part of our broader strategy which is to service our target audience in every and any way that they want to be entertained. So we see it as part of a diverse, broadened slate of offerings for our audience. We charged ourselves with creating programming for them that felt like it was in line with our brand, [a] youth brand that skews more boy but wants to bring everybody into the tent.
The two original reality programs on your channel are Dude, What Would Happen and Destroy, Build, Destroy. What’s the thread in this programming that makes it work for Cartoon Network?
Both of these shows not only feature kids in the central roles, they’re empowered kids. They’re aspirational kids and they’re getting to do really, really cool stuff; stuff that we think our target audience would aspire to do and [that] truthfully, they can apply to do.
We really just broke it down: what fascinates [youth]? And on Dude, What Would Happen, it’s [about] the limitless boundaries of one’s imagination. Even if you really haven’t wondered how many balloons it takes to lift a Sumo wrestler, it’s a funny question and it’s interesting to see how it plays out.
I think it starts with something that would pique the interest of our target audience, the people who are actually [participating] are our target audience or within the broadened range of who are target audience is. It’s always visual and it’s usually pretty funny.
Are you looking for more original or acquired reality programs for the channel?
Of course we’re open to developing and acquiring more shows in the reality vein if they are a fit for Cartoon Network. We are talking to talented alternative producers about new projects every day and have some interesting new developments in this area [on the way].