Tom Blank of Weird History explains the colorful downfall of Saturday Morning Cartoons, noting the early history of animation, how color animation became popular, and its explosive entry into the children’s market between the 1960s and the 1980s.
From the 1960s to the 1980s, cartoons dominated kids’ early Saturday TV schedules. Most people probably can’t recall when this long-running, popular tradition stopped because cartoons gradually phased out of their lives as they aged. …Profitability, changing viewing habits, and even legislation played a part in the eventual extinction of blocks of animated programming from weekend airwaves.
With these services, network programming became even less influential as kids could now watch whatever they wanted whenever they wanted. Adults also started to move away from traditional TV as they turned to streaming.