Remember when you were younger and things were newer and cooler because they were scarce? The world, even the cartoon world, seems to have spun faster and faster these last two decades flooding us with countless treasures.
In fact, it spins so quickly that animation history is getting forgotten as newer and newer accomplishments pop up every week.
As of February 2015, Cartoon Network (originally is was called The Cartoon Network) is available to approximately 96.4 million pay television households. But in the beginning it started with just two million paid subscribers and it was just wonderful that there was a station devoted to showing animated cartoons twenty-four hours a day.
When the channel started, Ted Turner’s animation library included the MGM cartoon library, the pre-1948 color Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, the Harman-Ising b/w Merrie Melodies shorts, and the Fleischer Studios/Famous Studios Popeye cartoons. In 1991, Turner Entertainment purchased animation studio Hanna-Barbera Productions for $320 million giving it access to all the H-B material.
It was estimated that when the channel launched, it had roughly 8,500 hours of cartoons that it could show. It was so many cartoons that there was even a show “Cartoon Network on TNT” that showed some of them and generated attention to the new cable channel.
While there were many highlights in the first three years (Remember the Toonheads show?), here are a few milestones from the first three years that some people don’t remember today. Hopefully, some of these items will spark some fond memories of fumbling with videotapes to record favorites.
• October 1, 1992 Cartoon Network launches in two million homes hosted by Droopy.
• January 1993 Cartoon Network is #1 in basic cable in time spent viewing levels (which means the network has cable’s most loyal audience)
• April 30, 1993 Cartoon Network Latin America launches in English, Spanish and Portuguese
• May 29, 1993 TV Guide Cheers Cartoon Network as Race Bannon wins “Favorite Cartoon Mom” contest, beating out Wilma Flintstone and Jane Jetson
• June 13, 1993 First time Cartoon Network becomes #1 rated basic cable network for all day “June Bugs” marathon
• June 1993 Cartoon Nework signs first major licensee — H.H. Cutler
• September 17, 1993 TNT/Cartoon Europe launches in 15 million homes
• September 26, 1993 Martin Short hosts Ed Grimley marathon – reprising Ed Grimley TV role exclusively for Cartoon Network
• October 2-3, 1993 First birthday promotion generates 250,000 phone calls from excited viewers
• November 26, 1993 “Great International Toon-In” Moxy debuts as first live computer-generated cartoon. Cartoon Network leads all six Turner Entertainment networks in first-ever worldwide combined programming event.
• January 12, 1994 “World Premiere Toons” project announced — joint venture with Hanna-Barbera in first-ever worldwide combined programming event.
• April 2, 1994 Cartoon Network launches on fastest-growing computer on-line service, America OnLine and kicks off via a national on-line conference with Bill Hanna and Joe Barbera
• April 15, 1994 Space Ghost Coast to Coast, the first talk show hosted by a cartoon superhero debuts with great press
• May 7, 1994 Flagstones, the never-before-seen Flintstones pilot, world premieres on Cartoon Network – story generates massive local, national and international press coverage.
• May 19-22 TV history is made when all 167 Flintstone episodes run back-to-back on Cartoon Network
• October 1, 1994 Cartoon Network turns two years old with 11.7 million subscribers – a 485% increase in distribution in just two years.
• January 1995 Scooby-Doo wins first annual “Dog Bowl”
• February 1995 World Premiere Toon-In airs on TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network simultaneously. “Powerpuff Girls Meat Fuzzy Lumpkins” is first World Premiere Toon to air
• Summer 1995 Dive-in Theater and Cool Toons Mobile tour country. At Dive-in Theater, fans saw exclusive poolside screenings of new World Premiere Toons on a giant television. The Cool Toons Mobile gave away free snow cones while kids watched World Premiere Toons from one of two 36-inch monitors on the truck.
• June 1995 435,000 people visit Cartoon Network On-line, a 300% increase since March 1995
• June 1995 “Dexter’s Laboratory” is nominated for an Emmy
• August 1995 Cartoon Network announces “Dexter’s Laboratory” as first World Premiere Toon that will be made into a series to premiere in 1996
• August 1995 590,000 people visit Cartoon Network On-line
• October 1, 1995 Cartoon Network turns three years old with 22 million viewers.