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Children's television series
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Children's television series

Children's television shows are television programs designed for and marketed to children, normally aired during the morning and afternoon hours, and sometimes with the purpose of educating a young audience about basic life skills or ideals. The programs are usually divided by age groups, including pre-school, kindergarten through second grade, third grade through age ten, and ages ten through twelve. The term "children's television" is also often associated with animated series, though cartoon television was intended for adults until well into the late 1970s when "Saturday morning cartoons" became a U.S. television tradition.

Children's television is nearly as old as television itself, with early American examples including live broadcast shows such as Captain Tugg, Howdy Doody, Bozo The Clown and The Mickey Mouse Club. These shows typically featured performers, clowns, or puppet characters performing in front of a live audience of children. Several also featured child performers. Early children's television was often a marketing branch of a larger corporate product such as Disney, and rarely contained an educational element. Though there is some debate on the intended audience, later non-educational children's television programs included the science fiction programs of Irwin Allen (most notably Lost In Space), the fantasy series of Sid and Marty Krofft, and the extensive cartoon empire of Hanna-Barbera.

Many children's shows also have a large adult following, sometimes in appreciation of their quality and educational value, and sometimes among adults who watched the shows as children or with their own children and now have a nostalgic emotional connection.

Table of contents
1 U.S. television
2 List of shows

U.S. television

Sesame Street

North American children's television took a dramatic turn in 1969 with the creation of the visionary PBS program Sesame Street. Still in production over thirty years later, Sesame Street is an educational program produced by the Sesame Workshop and featuring Jim Henson's Muppets. The show blends human and puppet characters, animation, song and dance, and colorful production numbers with basic educational material oriented for children anywhere from toddler to six. It is on this television show that many children of the world are first exposed to things like basic math and language skills, as well as social skills and multiculturality. The effect of Sesame Street was so powerful that within a few years, children's television was universally considered to have an educational mandate.

Though the perceived educational mandate continues to be promoted and debated, and many shows (particularly those on public television) are specifically designed to be educational, children's programming has moved toward back toward pure entertainment over time. Efforts by state and federal government to regulate children television into being exclusively educational have been evaded or defeated.

History of U.S. children's television

In the USA, most early children's programming ran during the late afternoon, or during otherwise-unused timeslots on weekend mornings. As time went on, Saturday morning became the most popular time for non-educational children's programming, and by the 1970s, all three major US networks had a full schedule of children's programs running in this space.

At the same time, as locally originated live-action children's programming fell out of style with the network affiliates (who filled the slots with cheaper syndicated programming, or more profitable news shows), the independent stations filled the gap by scheduling cartoons (usually reruns of Saturday morning fare, or public domain copies of old Paramount or Warner Bros shorts) in these afternoon time slots. By the early 1980s, the afternoon time slot was nearly as popular as Saturday morning was, and first-run programming (such as The Transformers and G. I. Joe) began to appear. Even Disney stepped into the fray eventually, premiering their first syndicated cartoon (DuckTales) in 1987.

The 1980s and early 1990s also saw the rise of Saturday morning's biggest competition yet:

By this time, NBC had had enough, and replaced its Saturday morning schedule with The Today Show and teen-oriented live-action shows. CBS later followed suit; however, they later merged with Nickelodeon's corporate parent Viacom, and CBS now offers a block of Nickelodeon's educationally-oriented programming on Saturday mornings. ABC continued to run cartoons in their Saturday morning block throughout the 1990s; after their acquisition by Disney, the block became mostly Disney-originated under the "One Saturday Morning" banner.

Cartoon Network introduced its own line of cartoons in 1996 with the World Premiere Toons/What A Cartoon! project, which spawned Dexter's Laboratory and The Powerpuff Girls, among others.

Fox Kids fell on hard times in the late 1990s, after Warner Bros. (which had produced some of its biggest hits) broke ties with it, and the popularity of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers began to wane. By this time, Fox had merged Power Rangers producer Saban Entertainment and the former Marvel Productions (which used to be Saturday morning fixture DePatie-Freleng Enterprises) into Fox Kids, and in 2000, most of Fox Kids' assets were put up for sale. Disney won the bid, acquiring all of the Saban assets and Fox Kids' international operations. Left without a programming block, Fox subcontracted their Saturday morning timeslots to 4Kids Entertainment, and gave the new block the Fox Box brand.

List of U.S. shows

List of shows

The following is a partial list of television shows for children that have received particular recognition or popularity, listed by their country of origin. Successful children's television shows are often broadcast in multiple countries.

UK television

German television

Canadian television

Australian television

Japanese television

French television

Swiss television