Originally a Sunday-only block with reruns on Thursdays, Adult Swim now airs Monday through Saturday from 11pm-6am Eastern Standard Time, and Sundays from 10pm to 6am.
The network is programmed by Williams Street Studios, who have created Toonami and Miguzi; they play American animated series and shorts geared towards adults, and in the past have played a wide variety of Japanese anime series, OVAs, and movies.
Promotions for Adult Swim are targeted towards the college age and those in their twenties and thirties, constituting the majority of their viewers. According to a September 1, 2004 article in Promo magazine, representatives travel to 30 universities across the U.S. to promote the Adult Swim lineup, including handing out posters for students' dorm rooms.
In the beginning of every hour, Adult Swim would show a Parental Advisory label following a statement such as "Adult Swim programming may be inappropriate to some viewers". Since 2007, the PA label was taken off. However, it was brought back by sister network Cartoon Network as its nightly sign off.
On August 1st, 2008, Adult Swim aired a special "old school lineup" night that went back to the original swimming pool motif and aired episodes of original hits such as Home Movies, The Brak Show, Sealab, Space Ghost, and Cowboy Bebop.
Starting August 22nd, 2008, due to great fan reception of their original old school night, Adult Swim decided to make every Friday "Old School" night, complete with all the old favorites like Sealab 2021; Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law; and Space Ghost Coast to Coast, and the old swimming pool bumps.
On September 13, 2008, due to poor ratings Adult Swim decided to change their traditional anime Saturday night, and replace most of the anime with original Williams Street shows.
"The 'packages' in question are magnetic lights that pose no danger. They are part of an outdoor marketing campaign in 10 cities in support of Adult Swim's animated television show Aqua Teen Hunger Force. They had been in place for two to three weeks in Boston, New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Seattle, Portland, Austin, San Francisco, and Philadelphia. Parent company Turner Broadcasting is in contact with local and federal law enforcement on the exact locations of the billboards. We regret that they were mistakenly thought to pose any danger."
On January 31, Boston and Massachusetts State Police were dispatched to various places in Boston after reports of suspicious packages were sighted. On February 1, 2007, Boston authorities arrested two men involved with the incident. Peter Berdovsky, 27, a freelance video artist from Arlington, Massachusetts, and Sean Stevens, 28, were facing charges of placing a hoax device to incite panic, as well as one count of disorderly conduct, according to CNN
On February 5, Turner Broadcasting and marketer Interference Inc. announced that they will pay two million dollars in amends: one million to the city of Boston, and one million in goodwill funds. Four days later, on February 9, Jim Samples, then-general manager and executive vice president of Cartoon Network, resigned.
Originally, all of the bumpers shown in between shows featured footage of senior citizens swimming in public pools, eating, exercising, and doing other pool-related activities, with audio of a lifeguard shouting "all kids out of the pool" through a megaphone. The logo was the words "ADULT SWIM" in all capital letters, shown after a freeze frame of the footage. The shows were announced by a computer generated voice on Saturdays.
When the Saturday night block started in 2002, it featured clips from the various anime programs displayed on the block. The original theme music for Adult Swim, titled "Covert Communique from Our Man in Havana," was a remix of "Mambo Gallego" done by the Melbourne musician Dust Devil (aka D-Code), originally played by Latin jazz musician Tito Puente, Sr.
On January 12, 2003, the senior citizens were replaced by animated safety manuals featuring Adult Swim characters. The logo changed to the words "adult swim" in red and a black circle with a yellow penumbra.
The current bumper cards debuted on May 25, 2003 and feature black intertitle "cards" in white Helvetica Neue bold condensed type. The cards discuss everything from programming news to personal staff opinions on unrelated subjects. In addition, the bumpers for the action shows include tilt-shift miniature and other abstract photos of Japan, often accompanied by clips of various Yesterday's New Quintet songs. The most recent bumper cards have been photographs of places, usually something to do with roads or road signs, in and around Atlanta, with the "[adult swim]" caption somewhere therein. Also, some of the bumps pay tribute to a recent death, in which there is no music or sound effects, but only a fade in, showing the person's name, along with the year of his/her birth and the year of his/her death, followed by a fade out. Most recent tributes include Skip Caray, Bernie Mac, and Isaac Hayes.
On August 1, 2008, Adult Swim had a special feature titled "Old School Fridays", where they went back to the original swimming pool motif and the original lineup of Home Movies, The Brak Show, Sealab 2021, Space Ghost: Coast To Coast, and Cowboy Bebop, even going as far as, in the instances of Home Movies, Space Ghost, and Cowboy Bebop showing the episodes that appeared on their debut. At this time, the logo was reverted to the original one.
Adult Swim Video repeats continuously on the hour, with content ranging from older and current shows to premiere episodes from the comedy block. It is updated every Friday at approximately 6 p.m. Eastern Time, and is available only in the United States.
Adult Swim has repeatedly set and broken viewership records for ad-supported basic cable channels, ranked #1 for delivery of adults 18-34, adults 18-24, men 18-34, and men 18-24. According to Nielsen Media Research, Adult Swim set new viewership records among men over 18 in 2005, 2006, and 2007. As of August, 2008, Adult Swim continues to be one of the most visited standard cable channel for adults 18 - 34.
Various electronic music is also often borrowed from artists on the label Warp Records, such as Boards of Canada, Chris Clark, Jackson and his Computer Band, and Flying Lotus. Additionally, from the Normrex label in New York is featured music of artist Machinedrum.
In February 2007, Adult Swim and Definitive Jux released a free, online EP entitled Definitive Swim. In 2006, Adult Swim and Chocolate Industries released Chocolate Swim as a free online download. In May of the same year, Adult Swim featured a similarly-styled release called Warm & Scratchy, focusing on indie rock bands from varying labels and sub-genres.
In June 2008, Adult Swim began running commercials sponsored by Sonic for the free downloadable album, Worldwide Renewal Program. The album features hip hop by artists like Hollywood Holt, Kovas, and the Cool Kids, among others; and some experimental beat tracks without vocals. As of this writing, the album is still freely available
Select series, including Aqua Teen Hunger Force and The Venture Brothers, are also available for purchase on iTunes. Furthermore, as of November 22, 2006, some Adult Swim shows can be bought and accessed from the Xbox Live Video Marketplace.
Adult Swim blocks outside of the United States are not obligated to remain identical in scheduling to the U.S. equivalent. They are permitted to acquire other programs for the block, and even create their own original programming; a move recently exercised by Adult Swim UK.
A common occurrence throughout the world is that of Adult Swim's popular program, The Boondocks, getting separated from the rest of the programming, ending up on another network. While it is an Adult Swim original, Sony Pictures Television owns and operates the show and distribution must be dealt through them instead of Turner Broadcasting. For example, Sony's Animax owns the broadcasting rights to the show throughout Asia.
It's one of the few adult swim blocks, if not the only, that doesn't start late night, instead starting at 8:30 pm.
Some series that aired on Adult Swim have been released to Region 4 DVD by Madman Entertainment, including shows that have never been shown on Australian television before, such as Metalocalypse, Moral Orel, Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!, and Frisky Dingo. The Aqua Teen Hunger Force Colon Movie Film for Theaters has also been quietly released to DVD.
The UK Adult Swim website, like its American counterpart, offers free access to full episodes of shows including Squidbillies, Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law, Tom Goes to the Mayor, Minoriteam, Stroker and Hoop, Moral Orel, 12 oz. Mouse, Perfect Hair Forever, Metalocalypse, and Frisky Dingo. Unlike Adult Swim on Bravo UK, the website service is owned by Time Warner. Adult Swim programming can also be ordered through various "on demand" and mobile TV services.
20th Century Fox-produced shows, such as Futurama, Family Guy, and American Dad!, were not seen on Adult Swim, but instead aired on FOX Latin America and FX Latin America in a similarly themed block called "No Molestar!" ("Do Not Disturb!" in English, "Não Perturbe!" in Portuguese). The Latin American block airs the shows Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Harvey Birdman, The Venture Bros., Sealab 2021, Baby Blues, Undergrads, Robot Chicken, and Home Movies, among others. In 2007, the block lost its first two hours in the countries where it started at 11 p.m. Its encore, which ran from 3 a.m. to 5 a.m., was also removed.
Teletoon's French-language service in Canada also has an adult-oriented block called "Le Détour sur Télétoon" that airs shows like The Boondocks, Family Guy, Home Movies, American Dad!, and Futurama. Similarly, YTV airs some anime originally broadcast on Adult Swim in its "Bionix" block.
The programming includes 12 oz. Mouse, Aqua Teen Hunger Force, The Brak Show, The Oblongs, The Venture Bros., Robot Chicken, Sealab 2021, Stroker and Hoop, Tom Goes to the Mayor, Squidbillies, Metalocalypse, Perfect Hair Forever, and Harvey Birdman.