Adult Swim: How to Run a Creative Hothouse

March 12, 2015 11:20 PM

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Adult Swim: How to Run a Creative Hothouse

On a wall outside the headquarters of Adult Swim, a block-long mural painting presents a timeline of the TV shows that built one of the most popular—and by far strangest—networks on cable. A doctor in clown makeup, a chicken with a glowing eye, a superhero talk-show host and other late-night characters illustrate the 14-year history of the network, housed in a former carpet factory and separated from parent company Turner Broadcasting by a 14-lane highway and a rogue approach to programming.

Adult Swim, the channel that takes over from Cartoon Network at night, is an outlier in the TV industry. Most networks are hemorrhaging young viewers. On basic cable, viewership among 18-34 year olds declined 14% in the past year. But Adult Swim has locked in that audience with an animation-heavy li...

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