Cartoons, as we jump into 2011, are well-represented in what is still called Prime Time:
Top Prime Time Shows -- January 3-9
2) The Simpsons -- 12.55 million
5) Family Guy -- 9.33 million
7) Bob'S Burgers -- 9.38 million*
15) The Cleveland Show -- 7.39 million...
Fox has clearly cornered the market in nighttime animation. All the scripting is done under the WGAw while the boarding, designing and directing is performed under an Animation Guild contract.
At the time the WGA finally got around to organizing the Simpsons' writers back in 1997, the complaints from other studios were audible. Corporate types said to me over lunch: "Oooh. Disney, Sony, Warner Bros? They aren't happy with what Fox is doing."
I'm sure they weren't, but in my experience big fat conglomerates act in their own perceived self-interest, not according to the wishes of fellow congloms. And in '97, Fox's interest was in keeping the Yellow Family franchise operating smoothly. So when The Simpsons writers got rambunctious and demanded a contract (threatening the flow of News Corp.'s high-rated shows), Rupert's minions did a deal with the Guild. (Leverage = power.)
Obviously the deal has long-since paid off. Being #2 after twenty years on the air ain't shabby.
* Why does a lower-rated show have a bigger audience than a higher-rated show? Because the viewer numbers on the far right represent total audience, and the ratings ranks are determined by the 18-49 demographic. We're dealing with different numbers.