Jamal Coogid

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This year is Cartoon Network 30th Anniversary and for 30 years, Cartoon Network has brought us 30 years of classic animated shows that have inspired generations of people. With Cartoon Network being around for 30 years, there have been millions of fans of Cartoon Network all around the internet and some of these people are so passionate for the network, so much so that they have archived VHS tapes, DVDs, and have even created a wiki that archives Cartoon Network’s schedule, logos, pictures and many more, but something that I haven’t seen people preserve or acknowledge that much when it comes to Cartoon Network is its ratings.
If you go to Wikipedia, you can find the Top 50 Highest Viewed Telecasts/Premieres of both Nickelodeon and Disney Channel, all well archived and public for everyone to view, however, I noticed there was nothing for Cartoon Network. I wondered why this was especially for a guy like me that has not only grown up on Cartoon Network and appreciates it, but also is fascinated with statistics and data such as TV Ratings, Album Sales and Box Office Numbers.
So I decided to go online and search all over the internet in order to collect all of Cartoon Network’s Top 20 Highest Viewed Telecasts. I would like to state that creating this was really hard, because something that people don’t acknowledge that much about Cartoon Network is that its ratings have always been pretty LOW compared to Disney Channel and Nickelodeon.
Disney Channel highest viewed telecast is High School Musical 2 in August of 2007 with almost 18 million viewers and Nickelodeon highest viewed telecast was the 10th anniversary special for Rugrats “All Growed Up” in 2001 with almost 12 million viewers.
So being able to find 10 of the highest viewed telecasts for Cartoon Network was hard enough, especially considering the fact that Cartoon Network viewership peak was probably in the early 2010's around 2010 to 2013, when the network was receiving at least 2 to 3 million viewers consistently, while Nickelodeon and Disney Channel viewers peak was from 2007 to 2011 when both network had shows that were reaching between 4-6 million viewers per episode.
It took me about 2 months in order to find these highest viewed telecasts, so I would really appreciate the feedback and comments from you guys on what you think about these shows. Have you seen any of these specials or episodes when they came out? Also don’t take this as 100% fact, like I said it was really hard to find a lot of this data and I tried as seriously as I could to be accurate, but Cartoon Network’s ratings are hard to find compared to Disney and Nick’s ratings. It is especially sad knowing that none of these numbers will ever be topped again considering the decline in cable subscriptions and rise of streaming. Also if you want to see the highest viewed premieres for both Nick and Disney Channel, I’ll put it later on this post. Enjoy reading and let me know what you think. Sources will also be in the post.
Also you might be shocked to know that 4 of these highest viewed telecasts are live action movies based on cartoons.

Top 20 Highest Viewed Cartoon Network Telecasts:
#1 - Scooby Doo! The Mystery Begins - 7pm - September 13th 2009 - 6.108 million viewers
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#2 - Scooby Doo! Curse of the Lake Monster - 7pm - October 16th 2010 - 5.130 million viewers
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#3 - Ben 10: Alien Swarm - 7pm - November 25th 2009 - 4.019 million viewers
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#4 - Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 9:00pm - October 3rd 2008 - 3.991 million viewers
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#5 - Ben 10: Race Against Time - 8pm - November 21st 2007 - 3.987 million viewers
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#6 - Star Wars: The Clone Wars - 9:30pm - October 3rd 2008 - 3.924 million viewers
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#7 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - November 7th 2002 - 3.806 million viewers
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#8 - Firebreather - 7pm - November 24th 2010 - 3.693 million viewers
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#9 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - November 1st 2001 - 3.649 million viewers
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#10 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - September 26th 2001 - 3.624 million viewers
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#11 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - November 6th 2001 - 3.510 million viewers
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#12 - Adventure Time - 7:30pm - July 30th 2012 - 3.504 million viewers
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#13 - Total Drama Action - 8:50pm - September 13th 2009 - 3.502 million viewers
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#14 - Total Drama Island - 9pm - December 11th 2008 - 3.459 million viewers
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#15 - Adventure Time - 7:30pm - November 12th 2012 - 3.435 million viewers
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#16 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - October 29th 2001 - 3.389 million million viewers
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#17 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - November 7th 2001 - 3.349 million viewers
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#18 - Ninjago: Masters of Spinjitzu - 8pm - April 11th 2012 - 3.340 million viewers
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#19 - Adventure Time - 6pm - April 21st 2014 - 3.321 million viewers
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#20 - Dragon Ball Z - 6pm - November 8th 2001 - 3.283 million viewers
—--------
Sources:
#1: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending September 13, 2009
#2: Cable Top 25: Brett Favre, New York Yankees, Badgers – Buckeyes, Chilean Miners Rescue & ‘iCarly’ Top Week’s Cable Viewing
#3: Cable ratings: NFL & College Football, Monk and iCarly top weekly cable charts
#4: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending October 5, 2008
#5: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending October 5, 2008
Ratings - Ben 10: Race Against Time Scores as Cartoon Network's Most-Watched Telecast in Network History and #1 Show of the Day Among Boys | TheFutonCritic.com
#6: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending October 5, 2008
#7: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 10, 2002
#8: https://web.archive.org/web/2010120...rs-mythbusters-meet-the-browns-nba-more/73527
#9: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 4, 2001
#10: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending September 30, 2001
#11: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 11, 2001
#12: Cable Top 25: 'The Closer' Tops Cable Viewership For Week Ending August 6, 2012
#13: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending September 13, 2009
#14: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending December 14, 2008
#15: Monday Cable Ratings: 'Monday Night Football' Wins Night, 'WWE Raw', 'Teen Moms II', 'Pawn Stars', 'Catfish', 'Real Housewives' & More
#16: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 4, 2001
#17: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 11, 2001
#18: Wednesday Cable Ratings: ‘South Park’ Wins Night, ‘Psych’, ‘America’s Best Dance Crew’, ‘House Hunters’, ‘Restaurant Stakeout’, ‘Duck Dynasty’ & More - Ratings | TVbytheNumbers
#19: archive.ph
#20: Broadcast & Cable Nielsens: Week Ending November 11, 2001
 

R Lopez

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Hey, this is a really cool list. Great job!

So, the highest-rated program in Cartoon Network's history was a live-action movie, huh? Actually, that whole mini-era of Cartoon Network Original Movies seems to have been a success. It's a shame that momentum was squandered.

Also, it's a little jarring to see that Dragon Ball Z was clearly a bigger hit than all of the Cartoon Cartoons from that same era.
 

Dr.Pepper

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I’m a bit surprised none of the Cartoon Cartoons cracked the top 20. Also I’m surprised the Steven Universe movie isn’t there.
 

Neo Ultra Mike

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Also, it's a little jarring to see that Dragon Ball Z was clearly a bigger hit than all of the Cartoon Cartoons from that same era.

Well let's face it the ONLY fully original Cartoon network cartoon series that cracked the top 20 was Adventure Time. None of the others were ever series built specifically to air on CN or were instead films/specials that would drum up more ratings. Plus yeah it is a reminder not only the power of DBZ back in it's day (as most of those weren't even like super special episodes either of the series that warrnated to be watched in favor of others just showed likely how many millions every day watched the show by the time of the Buu Arc) but just of having strong weekly premieres for series that yeah even with CN's highest totted premieres can't really generate nowadays. Like yeah even Teen Titans Go is nowhere on this list which says something for how much CN airs it.
 

Ace

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This is just ratings that we know about. This info is kind of difficult to find and I'm sure there's more from old CN days.
 

Markus Nelis

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Someone is saying nowadays ratings are inaccurate. Now I won't specify who said it. Are those real though from over 10 years ago? Makes no sense to say ratings are now false while they used to be accurate before. Is there any valid source?
 
Last edited:

R Lopez

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Someone is saying nowadays ratings are inaccurate.
I'm not sure what that person means. They might be referring to the fact that networks don't just use traditional ratings to determine how many people are watching a show; they might also factor in streaming numbers and social media engagement.
 

SuperSuck64

Lazy Aspiring Cartoonist
Joined
Mar 2, 2018
Messages
198
The fact that the highest-rated broadcasts on Cartoon Network were of live-action movies is genuinely sad.
Better not show those numbers to Davey.
 

R Lopez

Active Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2022
Messages
79
Location
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The fact that the highest-rated broadcasts on Cartoon Network were of live-action movies is genuinely sad.
A few months ago, I did a post on here about how live-action has always done well on Cartoon Network. I mean, not the infamous reality show block... but the reason the network tried that was that live-action movies were doing really well for them.
 

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