2006 - The beginning of the end for Saturday Morning Cartoons

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TheMisterManGuy

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Oct 23, 2014
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2006 was in an interesting year in Saturday Morning Animation. For the past few years prior, The networks relied on pulling content from Cable Channels. CBS merged with Viacom in 2000, and worked with Nickelodeon to supply their Saturday morning lineup. NBC leased its Saturday block out to Discovery Communications, who used the time to promote it's Discovery Kids Channel. Kids' WB! began airing a few shows from Cartoon Network, And ABC dumped most of its original One Saturday Morning shows, in favor of just airing reruns from Disney Channel and Jetix. The sole exception, was FOX, who sold off their Family division, which included its doomed Fox Family Channel to Disney in 2001. Fox would instead lease its Saturday block to 4Kids Entertainment, who proceeded to fill it with cheesy anime dubs.

But in 2006, a major shake up happened that would be the first instance of Saturday Morning Cartoons really falling apart. CBS and Viacom split earlier in the year, with CBS Television becoming part of the new CBS Corporation, while Nick stayed with Viacom. Loosing it's cable cousin, CBS brought in DiC Entertainment to fill the Saturday morning block, which became the KOL Secret Slumber Party, aimed at girls.

NBC ended its deal with Discovery Kids in March, as the company wound up getting involved in a joint-venture project with Schoolastic, Classic Media, and Nelvana known as Qubo, which would air as a Saturday block on NBC, Fridays on Ion, and Sundays in Spanish on Telemundo. Qubo went for an underserved audience of early grade schoolers aged 5-8, as opposed to the 6-11 demo most kids shows targeted. One of the flagship shows for launch, was the Christian animated series VeggieTales, which was met with mixed reception by fans, as NBC mandated most religious elements be removed. Qubo still exists today in the form of its digital broadcast network, only now the brand is wholly owned by Ion Media.

Kids' WB! finally ceased its weekday broadcasts earlier in December 2005, with the network citing declining ratings, and backlash from WB affiliates. The remaining Saturday block, was later adopted by the newly merged CW. Even in its now downsized format, Kids' WB! continued on its new home as if nothing was happening, but CBS' joint-ownership of The CW meant that Kids' WB! lost much of its synergy with Cartoon Network, and by 2007, it's total staff had shrunk to a team of 10. So while it still had another year left, Kids' WB! was on life-support.

Fox continued its partnership with 4Kids, with 4Kids TV continuing as usual. However 4Kids would decrease its focus on dubbing and licensing anime as the company's financial problems started setting in. Instead, 4Kids shifted their focus to developing shows from scratch with Viva Piñata, and Chaotic. 4Kids ended its deal with Fox in 2008, as they decided to use The CW as its new home.

2006 really did mark the beginning of the end for Saturday Morning Cartoons. With most of the Broadcast Networks loosing their synergy with the Cable Channels, all that was left was cheaply produced shows and acquisitions.
 
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