Warnermedia properties Warnermedia properties

A continuing series in which we map out what major corporations own in terms of characters, studios, and distribution platforms.

This week’s company is Warnermedia, previously known as Time Warner, which received its new name in 2018 after it was acquired by telecom giant AT&T. The conglomerate is home to Warner Bros., HBO (including streamer HBO Max), Cartoon Network, Crunchyroll, one of the world’s most famous libraries of classic animation, and many more assets besides. Since the sale to AT&T, the company has undergone elaborate restructuring.

AT&T recently announced that it would spin Warnermedia off and merge it with Discovery, a prominent player in unscripted tv, to form a new publicly traded company, Warner Bros. Discovery. The merger is pending regulatory approvals and expected to be finalized by mid-2022.

What follows is a list of major animation-related companies/divisions and content Warnermedia owns or co-owns, compiled to the best of our knowledge. It will be updated as new information becomes available. In earlier entries in the series, we explored the animation holdings of ViacomCBS, Comcast, Fox Corporation, and Sony Group Corporation.

Production and distribution

Warner Bros., one of Hollywood’s “Big Five” studios. It has a long history in animation that runs from Looney Tunes to The Lego Movie. Many of the channels and production units mentioned in this article fall under its umbrella. Warner Bros. also has a multi-film development and distribution pact with London’s young Locksmith Animation.

Warner Bros. Animation, the current incarnation of Warner Bros.’s in-house animation studio. A successor to Warner Bros. Cartoons, which produced the classic Looney Tunes and Merrie Melodies shorts, WBA opened in 1980 and established itself in the 1990s with acclaimed series like Animaniacs and Batman: The Animated Series, as well as features like The Iron Giant. The studio now produces series and direct-to-video films, many of them for Cartoon Network and HBO Max. The studio is currently in production on dozens of series including Animaniacs, Green Eggs and Ham, Gremlins: Secrets of the Mogwai, Jellystone!, Little Ellen, Looney Tunes Cartoons, and Tiny Toons Looniversity.

Warner Animation Group, the feature animation division of Warner Bros. It scored a hit with its first film, 2014’s The Lego Movie, which spawned a franchise. Other releases, which include last year’s Scoob! and this year’s hybrid Tom & Jerry, have received mixed critical receptions, although the latter did relatively well at the Covid-era box office. The unit’s next release is the hybrid Space Jam: A New Legacy.

Cartoon Network Studios, which mostly produces series for its namesake channel, and occasionally Adult Swim and HBO Max. The studio is under the same leadership as Warner Bros. Animation, with Sam Register serving as president of both. Recent productions have included Craig of the Creek, Steven Universe, Summer Camp Island, We Bare Bears, The Fungies!, and Primal.

Williams Street, the in-house production arm of Adult Swim. The studio produces its shows, animation and live action alike.

Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe, a London-based studio that serves as Warnermedia’s flagship tv animation studio for Europe, the Middle East, and Africa. Until recently it was called Cartoon Network Studios Europe. It produces shows for Cartoon Network’s U.S. and international channels, including The Amazing World of Gumball and The Heroic Quest of the Valiant Prince Ivandoe.

Rooster Teeth, producer of Red vs. Blue, one of the longest-running animated web series ever. Its other animated series include RWBY and Gen:Lock, and it also produces games. Like Crunchyroll and VRV (see below), Rooster Teeth is owned by Warnermedia through Otter Media.

DC Comics and its parent company DC Entertainment, which manages the publisher’s world-famous IP. DC characters have appeared in countless animated productions, the upcoming Batman: Caped Crusader (for HBO Max and Cartoon Network) being just one current example. Other recent and upcoming entries include Aquaman: King of Atlantis, Batwheels, Harley Quinn, DC Super Hero Girls, and Teen Titans Go!

Warner Bros. Interactive Entertainment, a.k.a WB Games, the studio’s game publisher. Many of its titles are based on Warner Bros. properties like Harry Potter, Game of Thrones, Batman, and The Lego Movie. The division owns nearly a dozen game developers, including Rocksteady Studios (Batman: Arkham) and Netherrealm Studios (Mortal Kombat).

Broadcast and streaming

HBO Max, Warnermedia’s heavyweight streaming platform. It has a strong offering of current and upcoming exclusive animation, including Adventure Time specials and a Clone High reboot. Plenty more is coming, not least content based on classic characters like Bugs Bunny, Daffy Duck, and Tom and Jerry. HBO Max also has a lot of classic animation from Warnermedia’s vast library and licensed from elsewhere (it is home to South Park and the Studio Ghibli catalogue). Responsibility for the streamer’s kids and family content lies with Warner Bros., not its in-house programming team.

HBO, a pioneering pay-tv network, which has aired a good deal of animation through its HBO Family station. Shows it has broadcast include Esme & Roy.

Cartoon Network, Warnermedia’s flagship animation channel. The cable channel has aired some of the most popular and influential animated series of recent decades (see below), many of which have found a following among teens and adults as well as children. The network has dozens of international feeds, some of which have started to air their own original programming.

Adult Swim, the late-night brand of Cartoon Network, which is marketed as a network in its own right. Animation is a major part of its programming, which skews toward dark, surreal comedy. It too has aired many hit shows, most famously Rick and Morty. It is home to the programming block Toonami, which mostly airs adult anime.

Cartoonito, an upcoming preschool programming block that will debut on Cartoon Network and HBO Max in the fall. It will have 20 new series at launch. The name Cartoonito is also used by Warnermedia for preschool channels and blocks overseas.

Boomerang, a cable channel that grew out of an eponymous programming block on Cartoon Network. Its focus has traditionally been on vintage animation from the Warnermedia library, including old Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera productions like Tom and Jerry, Scooby-Doo, and Looney Tunes. In recent years, it has moved into original programming, which has consisted so far of reboots of classic properties like the above.

Crunchyroll, a major global anime streamer and community platform, with four million SVOD subscribers and 100 million registered users. It also produces originals. Sony’s Funimation Global Group is in the process of buying the company for $1.175 billion, but the sale has reportedly been held up by a protracted antitrust review.

VRV, a U.S. streaming service that bundles third-party content into channels. Animation — especially anime — and gaming are prominent: channels include Crunchyroll, HIDIVE, Rooster Teeth, and Cartoon Hangover from Frederator Networks.

Boing, the collective name for a group of international channels aimed at young viewers. Animation makes up a substantial portion of their programming.

Pogo, a major kids’ network in India, which airs a lot of animation. It has recently branched out into original local programming.

Tooncast, a Latin American pay-tv channel which has aired a lot of classic and other animation, although its airing of old shows has diminished lately.

The CW, a joint venture between ViacomCBS and Warnermedia. The network has broadcast its fair share of animation, not least through its digital platform CW Seed, which has notably released animated web series based on DC Comics characters.

Characters

Warnermedia’s library of animation properties rivals Disney’s in global fame, and there is no space to list them all here. Its flagship franchise is Looney Tunes/Merrie Melodies, home to dozens of beloved characters, including Elmer Fudd, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety, Sylvester, Wile E. Coyote, and of course Warner Bros. mascot Bugs Bunny.

Warnermedia owns the pre-May 1986 MGM library, which contains the Tom and Jerry shorts and many of Tex Avery’s finest cartoons. Besides Tom & Jerry, other MGM characters owned by Warnermedia include Droopy, Screwy Squirrel, Barney Bear, and Bosko (who started as a Warner Bros. character before being reenvisioned at MGM). It houses the Hanna-Barbera catalogue, and thus properties like The Flintstones, The Jetsons, Jonny Quest, Scooby-Doo, Yogi Bear, and Wacky Races, as well as most of Ruby-Spears’s shows. It also has the rights to Fleischer Studios’ Superman and Popeye productions (the character of Popeye, however, is owned by King Features/Hearst Entertainment).

Cartoon Network and Adult Swim give Warnermedia a vast portfolio of recent and contemporary hit shows: The Powerpuff Girls, Dexter’s Laboratory, Adventure Time, Steven Universe, Samurai Jack, OK K.O.! Let’s Be Heroes, Rick and Morty, Robot Chicken, The Venture Bros., Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Boondocks, and Primal, to name some.

Through DC Comics, Warnermedia owns many high-profile superhero characters and franchises that have had animated incarnations, such as Batman, Wonder Woman, Justice League, and Harley Quinn.

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