Saturday morning cartoons began as a programming block dedicated to animated shows that aired on Saturday mornings on American television networks. The tradition of airing cartoons on Saturday mornings dates back to the 1960s and 1970s when television networks recognized that children were a significant audience during that time slot.
The shift towards airing cartoons on Saturday mornings was primarily influenced by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC). In the late 1960s, the FCC implemented stricter regulations on the amount of advertising that could be shown during children’s television programming on weekdays. This led networks to move their animated content to Saturday mornings when they had more flexibility in terms of commercial time.
The first major network to introduce a dedicated Saturday morning cartoon block was ABC (American Broadcasting Company) in the early 1960s. ABC launched “The Bugs Bunny Show” in 1960, which featured animated shorts from Warner Bros. This show was highly successful and paved the way for more animated programming on Saturday mornings.
Other networks, including CBS and NBC, followed suit and started developing their own Saturday morning cartoon blocks to compete for young viewership. Saturday mornings became a prime time slot for children’s entertainment, and numerous animated series, both original and based on popular comic book and toy properties, were produced and aired during this period.
Saturday morning cartoons became a cherished tradition for many children, offering a lineup of animated shows that often included superheroes, action-adventures, comedies, and educational programs. The popularity of these shows continued through the 1980s and 1990s.
However, with changing viewing habits and the rise of cable television and streaming platforms, the prominence of Saturday morning cartoons gradually declined. Networks shifted their focus to other programming formats, and the era of dedicated Saturday morning cartoon blocks came to an end by the early 2000s.