WarnerMedia Upfronts 2019: TBS May Have Thrown In The Towel On Adult Animation ; Adult Swim Putting Renewed Focus On Half-Hours

What’s gonna happen here?

Back in 2017, Kevin Reilly got up in front of Upfront presenters and told everyone that they were going to double down on the strong ratings for American Dad by ordering a bunch of adult animated series. This quickly turned into series orders for Tarantula, Close Enough, The Cops, and Final Space to go along with multiple season orders for the Seth MacFarlane mainstay. With Kevin’s announcement earlier this week that TBS would be merging the dramatic efforts of TNT with the comedies of the network whose mantra was “Always Funny”, this effectively put a nail in the coffin in Reilly ordering any new adult animated series for the network. With TNT moving towards the current FOX business plan of more live sports with a bevy of offerings from the MLB, AEW, e-Sports, and the NBA, TBS will be taking on more of a major broadcast network by combining the drama and comedy genres and just having more nights a week with at least SOMETHING original on. In a couple of years, Family Guy will be gone entirely, leaving just American Dad as the lone animated wolf for the network.

So what’s the status of the handful of adult animation from TBS? Not good. Tarantula and The Cops were canceled. Final Space has moved to Adult Swim and I hear a quarter-hour version of Close Enough is behind it with already a second season being written. American Dad very well might go with it or could be paired with TruTV’s This Functional Familywith new network head Kevin Reilly now at the helm. In the meantime, new American Dad is going to be burning all through the summer right through September, so that’s some good news, right? Super Deluxe is also dead, however, there have been no updates on the futures of the studio’s half hours like Boss Bitch, Don’t Hug Me, I’m Scared, or Tom Delonge’s Strange TimesThe likely landing spots?

Adult Swim. We’re hearing that there could be executive changes made internally, some of which has been made public already. However, of note, is the network’s recent renewed interest in picking up half-hour series. Along with Rick and Morty, the network is the new home for Final Space plus upcoming new IP like Primal, Birdgirl, Blade Runnerand more. Plus, if the WarnerMedia streaming service is coming, this may all be moot anyway because if the AT&T home for content is expecting to be competitive in this space, a space the likes streaming rivals Hulu and Netflix are doing very well in, they will need to up the ante in original content. Adult Swim is definitely doing it’s part here, regardless of the network’s uncertain future. They just canceled Hot Streets and have been premiering the quarter-hour series in blocks of two, every week on both the website and television, for the last several months in what could either be seen as A) content burns or B) continuing to test the 30-minute timeslots that start at Midnight ET/PT.

That said, the brand is still hot with international markets like UK, Canada, and Asia becoming focal points for the network brand much in the same way Viacom is doing with Comedy Central. However, there’s some slippage. As mentioned, Netflix continues to stay hot with new originals like Tuca & Bertie and Hulu has even taken some talent from Adult Swim with the likes of Nick Weidenfeld to go along with producers from Rick and Morty going with him and has subsequently sold off the WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal equities in the service leaving Disney the sole proprietor for original content.

With a reported 283 available streaming outlets for content available today, WarnerMedia is doing it’s damnedest to make sure it’s future is secure, but will it be enough? I saw a comment somewhere the other day about Netflix. Someone had mentioned that Netflix should “watch it’s back” with NBC Universal and Disney taking off premium content with their names on it and moving it to their own services. Netflix will be fine, because other streaming services aren’t the only competitors. The largest streaming service in the world has to compete also with video games, broadcast television, Youtube, and even audio services like Spotify. With 20 million houses in America without any internet and then times three that don’t have access to broadband internet, cable networks will still be around as well. The competition for our adult animation eyeballs has officially begun, and we can’t wait.

John Schwarz

John is the Chief Editor and Founder of Bubbleblabber.com. While at first a part-time project, Bubbleblabber quickly grew into a full-fledged operation and officially became a company in 2014. When John isn't running a business full-time, he likes to go to concerts with your mother.

John Schwarz has 13791 posts and counting. See all posts by John Schwarz