For decades, Saturday morning’s American broadcast TV programming was reserved for kids, filled with a few hours of early morning cartoons. This weekend, for the first time in 50-plus years, animation blocks were cut for good. It’s the end of an era.
According to Gizmodo, The CW was the final holdout in Saturday morning animation, running its last batch of cartoons last weekend. Apparently, NBC ditched Saturday morning cartoons in 1992, CBS followed suit, and ABC did as well in 2004… and it was The CW being the last one standing.
This Saturday (Oct. 5), where Dragon Ball Z and other familiar cartoons filled its block of shows, viewers found “One Magnificent Morning,” a block of live-action educational programming.
“What killed Saturday morning cartoons? Cable, streaming, and the FCC,” writes Gizmodo. “In the 1990s, the FCC began more strictly enforcing its rule requiring broadcast networks to provide a minimum of three hours of ‘educational’ programming every week. Networks afraid of messing with their prime-time slots found it easiest to cram this required programming in the weekend morning slot. The actual educational content of this live-action programming is sometimes debatable, but it meets the letter of the law.”
It doesn’t mean much, however, because with hundreds of cable and satellite channels to choose from, kids can get their animation fix any day of the week. With the rise of cable and satellite, advertisers no longer had to cram all their kid-aimed commercials into the four-hour Saturday morning block. When those advertising dollars left the networks, so did the cartoons.