Traditionally, prime time television hours run 8-11 pm (ET) Monday-Saturday, starting an hour earlier on Sundays. At Cartoon Network, prime time for the core network has been from 6-9 (ET), due to the [adult swim] half taking over at 9, aside from a respite in December when CN was given back the 9-10 (ET) hour to showcase some of their best original programs.
Despite the fact that the ratings favored CN hits like Regular Show & Adventure Time, Stuart Snyder, the moron in charge, restored the [as] block to a 9 pm (ET) start after the holidays, but it's not enough anymore.
According to a couple of newsboards I frequent, plans call for [adult swim] to expand again at the end of March, taking away another hour of programming from CN itself. Like, is this move really necessary? As far as Snyder is concerned, the answer would be yes, but it should be no. Snyder is claiming this is what advertisers want. Oh, really?
The target demographic that Snyder is after are boys 6-14 years of age. [adult swim] is geared toward young adults from 18-up. That leaves a small teenage demographic, from 15-17, that isn't being addressed, and that is something that should be a point of emphasis.
Let's take a look at some of the original programming on CN these days.
Regular Show, with its surrealist, absurd humor, would fit right into that 15-17 demographic, but can also fit in with [adult swim]. Uncle Grandpa falls into this category as well. Steven Universe, Adventure Time, & The Amazing World of Gumball, as bad as that is, fall closer to the 6-14 demo. Mad, adapted from the long running humor magazine of the same name, would/should be geared for teenagers, but there's no need for it on [adult swim], unless it's to be coupled with the longer running Robot Chicken, which treads the same satirical ground.
And, then, there is the beleagured DC Nation block, which as presently constituted, is a full hour of Teen Titans GO! and filler material. Beware the Batman is overdue to return, but its comics counterpart is being cut by DC, effective next month. CN's mishandling of the series and other action cartoons would be muted by repackaging these shows for the 15-17 demographic and plugging them back into the mix. That would appease older fans of the comics those shows are based on, but that isn't what Snyder wants to do. His myopic mindset puts him in the same category as WWE's Vince McMahon and cable/sports mogul James Dolan. Too stubborn to accept change, and unwilling to acknowledge mistakes being made.
On the flip side, CN's kid sister network, Boomerang, will be a fully ad supported network soon. Non-house ads began airing on the channel a while back, but as Boomerang is also in need of a face lift, it's clear that it will house more CN material as well as older series. The problem there, though, is that more older series will be consigned to the vaults, unused and unloved. CN/Boomerang has already lost some WB properties to The Hub, for example, and let Marvel Super Hero Squad defect to the Hub as well. Star Wars: The Clone Wars is bound for DisneyXD to wrap that series up. There are older series from Hanna-Barbera, Ruby-Spears, and WB that are just sitting there, dormant, collecting dust. Snyder doesn't care about them, but that doesn't mean nobody else does.
Meanwhile, plans call for more original material to air online, calling attention to the network's website as being more than just about video games. Like other networks, if you're missing your favorites, and they're not On Demand, they're likely going to be streaming online so you can catch up. It's the way of the world.
In terms of ratings, and I cannot be certain of this, CN may be trailing badly behind Disney Channel and/or Nickelodeon, and on the verge of falling behind The Hub, if it hasn't already. Personally, I'd rank Disney & Hub 1-2, because their programmers seem to get it. Nickelodeon fostered the idea of playing popular series into the ground nearly 25 years ago, and while Disney got away from that, CN hasn't. It's time they should, and it's also time they started addressing all of their viewer demos, not just selected ones. Their future depends on it.