Animation Talk Stuff

Animation Monday: The Death Of Traditional Saturday Morning Cartoons

Geek Alabama Animation

Over the weekend, you might have heard a huge thump in the cartoon world.  The thump was the end of the traditional Saturday morning cartoon block on broadcast TV.  Since the early 1960’s, the broadcast networks CBS, NBC, ABC, FOX, and The WB/CW, have done a Saturday morning cartoon block which featured a wide variety of great cartoons, I loved watching these cartoons as a kid!  But, in the early 1990’s, the decline of Saturday morning cartoons began.  First, NBC killed off their cartoons for teen based shows like Saved By The Bell.  Then, ABC and CBS killed off their cartoons for shows made by Litton Entertainment.  NBC then outsourced to Discovery Kids, then Cubo, and now Sprout.  And now, The CW will end the Vortexx block, and the death of Saturday morning cartoons on broadcast TV is complete, unless you count PBS as part of the mix.

Over the weekend, Toonzone (I’m a member) reported that Saban Brands Vortexx block is ending this fall for a E/I block made by Litton Entertainment called One Magnificent Morning.  The block will feature hosts from shows on National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, cooking networks, and more.  The Vortexx block was only around two years old, but it faced a major uphill battle.  One, cable networks like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Hub Network, and others have largely taken over the traditional Saturday morning cartoon blocks you see on TV.  In fact, the transition from broadcast to cable began in the early 1990’s.

Second, the FCC came out with rules that required all broadcast TV stations to air three hours of E/I programming each week, most stations airs the three hours on Saturday morning.  And let’s face it, most cartoons are not educational and informative.  Unless you watch the preschool cartoons.  With the FCC getting stricter on what shows are educational and informative, the broadcast networks quit making Saturday morning cartoons, and the cartoons went onto cable land.  You also have to consider the fact that the internet has changed everything today, and someone could watch any cartoon they want on YouTube, Hulu, Netflix, or the cable network’s website, for free!

Face it, Vortexx was in trouble before it even started.  The CW is available in most homes in America, since it’s a broadcast network picked up by antenna.  And on most weekends, ratings were only around 100,000 people, that is not good at all!  So, the end of Vortexx and the traditional Saturday morning cartoons comes at no surprise.  I am surprised the cartoons on broadcast TV lasted this long to be honest!  With cable and the internet, you can pretty much see cartoons 24/7 now, back then, broadcast TV was your only choice!  As for the FCC’s E/I requirement, I think it’s a huge waste of time and space for the local TV stations, since kids can see educational and entertaining shows on the internet and cable today, and PBS offers so much great educational TV, you might as well allow the local TV stations to air paid programming, at least they make more money that way.

So, the traditional Saturday morning cartoon blocks that gave us great memories are about to go away forever.  So enjoy some of my favorite classic Saturday morning cartoon intros!

Captain Kangaroo

Bobby’s World


Slimer and The Real Ghostbusters


The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show Intro

Superman: The Animated Series

Saturday morning cartoons on broadcast TV, we will miss you!  And to celebrate the end of Saturday morning cartoons on broadcast TV, enjoy my latest presentation called 21 Life Lessons From Saturday Morning Cartoons, kind of timely isn’t?

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