Something happened this weekend that hadn’t happened in more than 50 years of children’s television. Gizmodo reports that it was the first time in more than a half-century that a block of children’s animation didn’t air on Saturday morning broadcast television.
The CW, the single broadcaster still airing a Saturday morning children’s animation block, ended its last slate of Vortexx cartoons the previous weekend, the story reports. Instead of finding “Cubix” and “Yu-Gi-Oh!” this past Saturday, viewers of the CW received “One Magnificent Morning,” a block of live-action educational programming.
“It’s the end of an era, but it’s been a long time coming: NBC ditched Saturday morning cartoons in 1992, CBS followed suit not long after, and ABC lost its animated weekend mornings in 2004,” the report notes. “The CW, a lower-tier broadcast network, was the last holdout in a game that the Big 3 left long ago.”
What’s to blame for the demise of Saturday morning cartoons on broadcast TV? Gizmodo notes, “Cable, streaming and the FCC.”
“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 story reports.
With cable networks airing animation around the clock, kids can find cartoons at any time of the day, the report points out. Netflix, Hulu and other streaming services have further widened the availability of animated children’s shows.
Gizmodo adds, “Still, there’s something a little hollow about the notion that we woke up this morning to an America bereft of broadcast ‘toons. I guess we all had to grow up sometime.”