The history of Sunday morning cartoons is one that many people are not aware of.
Most assume that the process of developing the classic Saturday morning cartoons of the past were not developed or devised as part of a massive well thought out plan. Let the truth be told: the glory days of Saturday morning cartoons came about almost by accident.
In the early 1960s, Saturday mornings was not exactly a time where broadcasters could generate a lot of revenue.
- There were quite a few local news shows on at such a time drawing in a very small audience. People simply did not wake up on Saturday mornings to look for cheap programming to fill time slots.
Classic cartoons of previous decades started to be "dumped" into the morning timeslots.
While no one ever thought the cartoons would be wildly successful, they were. Kids started to wake up early to catch these cartoons. Remember, back in the 1960's, there were no DVR recordings so if you missed a program, you missed it. There was also not a lot of choice in those days in terms of TV channels.
- Cable TV did not even come into existence until 1972. In the early 1960s, you had three networks and two or three UHF channels. That was it!
- So, the availability of cartoon programming was not overlooked by a lot of kids.
- So huge did the kid's audience become that original Saturday morning cartoons were produced.
- Scores of excellent cartoons were produced with the classic Marvel Superhero cartoon show proving to be among the most popular along with Johnny Quest and other excellent Hanna-Barbera productions.
Yes, the 1960's were hugely successful but it was the 1970's that was the mammoth watershed mark of success. To list all the great cartoons (and many not so great cartoons) that aired on Saturday mornings in the 1970s would be next to impossible. Most people realize that this was the true heyday and many of the cartoons that aired at the time are still popular on cable to this very day. What many do not realize is how financially successful Saturday morning cartoons had become.
- During its heyday, $50 million dollars a week was generated in advertising revenue with toy and cereal commercials being the top items advertised.
- And, of course, these commercials did generate hundreds of millions of dollars in sales for the advertisers.
Saturday morning cartoons remained quite popular well into the 1980's.
- Roughly around 1985, Saturday morning cartoons suffered a decline.
- There were two reasons for this. The first was the cost of animation increased to the point that airing it once a week simply could not recoup costs. However, airing cartoons five days a week was profitable and after school airings of cartoons became the new way to go.
Yes, Saturday and Sunday Morning Cartoons still exist in the modern era.
- However, audiences are greatly fragmented today thanks in large part to the enormous cable television channel selection. With several 24 hour cartoon networks, why would Saturday mornings be considered special? Well, to those that remember the glory days, they still are.