Sunday morning cartoon

Sunday morning cartoon

Sunday morning cartoons have been a part of US television programming since the 1950s, but aired far less than Saturday morning cartoons. At one point, ABC and CBS each aired network cartoons on Sunday mornings.

unday mornings on ABC and CBS

CBS aired an hour of this type of programming until the early 1980s, while ABC aired between 90 minutes and two hours of such programming from the late 1960s until 1981. On ABC and CBS, the cartoons and children's shows aired on these Sunday morning lineups were reruns of Saturday morning cartoons from the previous couple or so of seasons, shows that were canceled the previous season. Beginning in the early 1970s, ABC began a first-run children's 30-minute show, "Make a Wish," to add to the 90-minute cartoon Sunday lineup. From 1976 to 1981, another first-run 30-minute show "Animals, Animals, Animals" ran in addition to the hour of reruns of cartoons on ABC. In 1978, after being assured of clearances from many markets that had been preempting the Sunday morning cartoons, ABC dropped the cartoon reruns in favor of a 90-minute children's live audience show called "Kids are People Too".


The big problem with the Sunday morning cartoon lineups for both CBS and ABC were that, while the owned-and-operated stations cleared the programs (by management mandate), many affiliates did not. Only about 25% of the CBS affiliates cleared Sunday morning cartoon lineups. Even CBS O&O station WCAU in Philadelphia (now an NBC O&O) did not run the Sunday morning cartoons from 1978 to 1979. By comparison, about 60% of ABC affiliates cleared that network's Sunday morning lineup.

The reason for preemptions were the fact that many network affiliates, especially in the Midwest and the South, typically sold most of their Sunday morning timeslots to religious broadcasters, ranging from local churches to internationally known televangelists. Not only did this fulfill what broadcasters considered a public service, but airing religious programming was likely also greatly more productive of revenue. Another factor that probably influenced stations' decisions was the fact that, during those days, a large percentage of the potential audience of children, especially Euro-American, middle-class ones, attended Sunday School and church worship services with their families during the time periods concerned, taking them away from television sets.

In some cases, other affiliates in smaller markets owned the rights to syndicated cartoons that they ran during part of the Sunday mornings. The network lineups were widely preempted as a result. For example, during several years in the early 1970s, one CBS affiliate, KXJB in Valley City, North Dakota, taped (or delayed) the one-hour Sunday morning lineup from the network feed and aired it the following Saturday from 1 to 2 p.m., after CBS' Saturday morning cartoon lineup ended. The shows aired in this hour included "My Favorite Martians" and "Bailey's Comets."

In syndication

In addition to network affiliates, some independent television stations, as well as some FOX affiliates, ran syndicated cartoons on Sunday mornings. Some stations ran them later on Sunday mornings, such as a bloc from 9 or 10 a.m. until noon, while running religious shows earlier in the morning. Yet other independents (even those with extensive weekday cartoon lineups) chose to run religious shows all Sunday morning. Other stations ran cartoons early Sunday mornings while running movies later in the morning.

During the 1980s, there was often no set pattern on what cartoons may run on sunday morning independent stations. Many of the cartoons run during that time were one-shot specials or failed pilots.

1995 onward

As independent stations became UPN or WB affiliates, they continued running some Sunday cartoons, including some classified as educational, to meet the three-hour-a-week educational requirement. As UPN and WB were replaced by CW and My Network TV, a moderate amount of cartoons still air on some stations Sunday mornings. Some CW affiliates, for example run the Kids' WB on Sunday mornings. Others run FOX's syndicated 4Kids TV in Sunday morning blocks. In addition, some ABC and CBS affiliates run part of their Saturday kids' lineups on Sunday morning.

Overall, however, Sunday morning cartoons have never been nearly as common as those airing on Saturday mornings or as common as weekday cartoons (which are nearly extinct on broadcast TV) had been in past decades.

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