The Decline of Saturday Morning Cartoons


With the television in the room the kids watch cartoons on the tablet and phone.

Antonio Magallon

On Oct. 4, for the first time in 50 years, there was not a single cartoon on Saturday morning. The old glory days of getting up at 7 o’clock in the morning, eating breakfast, setting the popcorn ready and flipping through channels to find your favorite shows are over, but it’s the beginning of a new era.

So what happened? According to Robert Sorokanich of tech blog Gizmodo, the causes of the collapse are three things: streaming, cable, and the FCC. He said that 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.”

The FCC did this so kids can be educated while watching television. While some educational programs like “The Magic School Bus” and “Bill Nye the Science Guy” were entertaining, shows like Barney and Friends only appeal to younger kids. Kids would rather see something entertaining and exciting, “like Batman: The Animated Series” and “Pokémon.”

Though cable television subscriptions have gone down over the last couple of years, some shows like “SpongeBob Squarepants,” “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” and “Pokémon” still maintain popularity among kids. What cable television has is a much bigger audience than Saturday morning, which is one of the main reasons for the downfall of Saturday morning cartoons.

Thanks to streaming like Hulu, Netflix and torrents, kids have the option to watch their favorite show anytime. Even old shows are now available via stream. This is a good thing because it brings back some nostalgia: seeing “Tom and Jerry” and “Looney Tunes” brings back memories.

They also don’t need to watch shows on televisions. Thanks to devices like smartphones, computers and tablets, children have the advantage of taking their parents’ devices and watching anytime.

I recently went to my old elementary school and I noticed that kids watch some of their shows on mobile devices during lunchtime.

Why wait for it on Saturday morning when they can watch it when they please? Those who grew up in the ‘90s, or before that, did not have that option. While the future generation won’t experience what it was like to wake up in the morning and flip through channels, we can reflect on that memory.

Saturday morning cartoons are dead, but not cartoons themselves. The old and new generations have more access to cartoons in today’s digital age. Having more content is a great thing because you can revisit your memories while the new generation can enjoy watching their favorite shows. The best feature is the opportunity given to share a piece of your childhood.