Is Cartoon Network Shutting Down? What to Know About Warner Bros. Changes to Iconic Channel

Can Cartoon Network survive corporate restructuring? When David Zaslav took over Warner Bros. Discovery in April, the CEO vowed to cut $3 billion from the company and has taken aggressive actions to accomplish this. There are now concerns that the expeditious cutbacks will gut Cartoon Network and turn it into a shell of itself or eliminate it. On Wednesday, Warner Bros. TV Group laid off 82 employees from its scripted, unscripted, and animation divisions, reported Polygon. Forty-three vacant positions will remain unfilled at the company. The Warner Bros. Animation (WBA), Cartoon Network Studios (CNS), and Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe brands will maintain their separate operations, and the WBA and CNS production teams will combine under one division. Warner Bros. Animation and Cartoon Network Studios' merger may have far-reaching implications beyond those mentioned in a memo recently by Warner Bros TV CEO Channing Dungey. 

As part of the "new streamlined structure" of the company, Dungey's memo indicates that Hanna-Barbera Studios Europe, Warner Bros. Animation, and Cartoon Network Studios will remain operating under the leadership of Sam Register. This decision may not be a good sign for Cartoon Network, which has historically owned original Intellectual Property (IP) like Craig of the Creek, and Summer Camp Island, that the two animation labels will now share "development and main production teams." Variety reported that "output will remain the same," following the union of WNA and CNS, with Cartoon Network Studios continuing to produce original animated content for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim, and HBO Max. Furthermore, HBO Max will focus more on creating for third-party networks and external platforms as it moves away from adult animation, and Warner Bros Animation will concentrate more on pre-existing characters and IP. However, critics and animation industry followers are less optimistic. Cartoon Brew declared the studio "as you know it, is gone," which was argued against by a Cartoon Network employee

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Season episode orders for Craig of the Creek and its spinoff Jessica's Big Little World on Cartoon Network were cut by half earlier this month. Although both shows and the forthcoming Craig of the Creek movie are still happening, the episode reductions may indicate future changes, as both are part of Cartoon Network's most successful franchises. As with HBO Max and Discovery Plus, Warner Bros Discovery likely plans to keep the Cartoon Network name around, possibly as whatever format HBO Max and Discovery Plus adopt. A Warner Bros. representative told Polygon that CNS "is not disappearing" and is still working on many projects. Ultimately, it's largely up to the company to decide what viewers watch and what it considers profitable to set its priorities.