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Adult Swim Preps for Deeper Dive Into Prime

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(Food brands are anticipating a season of renewed scrutiny in Washington, following President Obama’s Feb. 9 executive order creating a national task force to stamp out childhood obesity. That said, the language of the proposal does not include any overt references to the role television advertising may––or may not––play in the health crisis.)

The state of the kids market also got some  high-profile attention during fourth-quarter earnings season. On Feb. 3, John Martin, Time Warner executive vp and chief financial officer, told analysts the kids business is “one area that remains somewhat soft for us, which we think is more of an industry trend than company specific.” Martin went on to single out the nighttime skein, saying that “a growing percentage of the kids business is really coming from Adult Swim, where we’ve been very successful in ratings and are growing our advertising.”

Media buyers who have been apprised of the situation predict Adult Swim’s jump to 9 p.m. will be colored by a number of intriguing contingencies. “We’ve already seen an encouraging trend when they started programming King of the Hill at 10 p.m.,” said one national TV buyer. “That sort of middle-ground material still appeals to their core audience.
And yet it’s much ‘safer’ ground for advertisers who want to reach younger males but don’t really want all the fart and vomit jokes that are baked into some of their late-night content.”

And while the kiddie pool is getting crowded, as established ad-supported players like Nickelodeon are joined by upstarts like Disney XD and the Discovery-Hasbro venture Hub, ceding an hour to Adult Swim may only drive up Cartoon Net’s pricing at 8 p.m.

“It could prove to be a sound financial decision any way you look at it,” said Brad Adgate, svp, director of research at Horizon Media. “Opening up another hour of inventory gives them access to a larger pool of advertisers who are trying to reach that desirable male 18-34 demo. The question is, what do they program?”

Snyder candidly said he doesn’t have an answer as yet. “We’ll be spending 2010 reviewing our programming options, but the more adult content will continue to run at 11 p.m. and after.”