“Clone Wars” cable network switch likely

It looks like the first fallout from The Walt Disney Co.’s purchase of Lucasfilm came sooner than we thought…

As first reported by The Hollywood Reporter Friday, Lucasfilm-produced half-hour animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, is expected to end its five-year run on Cartoon Network and is expected to land on Disney XD if Lucasfilm decides to continue the show.

Why? Simple. Disney owns young male-targeted (as in boys 6-14) Disney XD; Time Warner owns Cartoon Network. Keep in mind vertical integration rules above all in the media business.

Cartoon Network has given Clone Wars less than favorable treatment over the years as the series has been pushed aside for new hits The Annoying Orange Show, Adventure Time, and Regular Show. Once a Friday night series, Clone Wars was recently downgraded to a Saturday morning time slot. But even there, Clone Wars continues to do well in key kids 6-11 demos – especially among boys in the age group.

In addition, Clone Wars also has strong audience appeal with adults, too: the series did well in the adults 18-34 and the 18-49 demographic – not only on Cartoon Network, but also on TNT and Adult Swim, where the series has run at times.

If Clone Wars continues and moves to XD, the series is almost certain to lose ratings stream, as the nearly four-year old cable network’s reach isn’t as vast as Cartoon Network’s.

Clone Wars recently entered weekend broadcast syndication via Trifecta Entertainment, where it airs back-to-back Saturdays (early Sundays) at 1 a.m. locally on WCIU. The series previously aired at midnight, but was not able to match the ratings of the show it replaced. It is not known at this time how the Disney-Lucasfilm deal will effect Trifecta’s one with local stations, nor how long Cartoon Network would hold the stripping rights to the same reruns (Cartoon has yet to schedule Clone Wars on its daily schedule.)

Clone Wars – set in between the prequel movies Attack Of The Clones and Return Of The Sith, was originally launched as a traditional (2-D) animated series produced by Cartoon Network and Lucasfilm and ran from 2003-05. In 2008, it was rechristened Star Wars: The Clone Wars and a theatrical film was launched before the television series premiered. Even though the movie was panned by critics (19 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes) – and from yours truly, the television series has been far better received (with a 64 score on Metacritic) and a Critics’ Choice Television Award nomination for Best Animated Series of 2012.

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