Children's programming on NBC

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Children's programming has played a part in NBC '​s programming since its initial roots in television.



In 1947, NBC's first major children's series was Howdy Doody, one of the era's first breakthrough television programs. The series, which ran for 13 years, featured a frecklefaced marionette and a myriad of other characters and hosted by "Buffalo" Bob Smith. Howdy Doody spent most of its run airing on weekday afternoons.


In 1956, NBC stopped airing a children's program lineup on weekday afternoons, relegating its children's shows to Saturdays only with Howdy Doody as their marquee franchise for the series' remaining four years. From the mid-1960s until 1992, the bulk of NBC's children's programming were derived from theatrical shorts like The Pink Panther Show and Looney Tunes, reruns of popular television series like The Flintstones and The Jetsons, foreign acquisitions like Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion, original animated series (most notably The Smurfs and Alvin and the Chipmunks in the 1980s), cartoon adaptations of Gary Coleman, Mr. T, Punky Brewster, ALF and Star Trek, and original live-action series including The Banana Splits, The Bugaloos, and H.R. Pufnstuf.

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1983–1989: The "One to Grow On" era[edit]

From 1983 to 1989, One to Grow On PSAs were shown after the end credits of every show or every other children's show. One to Grow On focused on ethical and personal safety dilemmas and attempts to teach viewers on how to solve them. The segments were hosted by the stars of NBC primetime series, including Michael J. Fox and Justine Bateman from Family Ties, Mr. T and Dwight Schultz from The A-Team, Soleil Moon Frye from Punky Brewster, David Hasselhoff from Knight Rider, Kim Fields, Nancy McKeon, Lisa Whelchel, and Charlotte Rae from The Facts of Life, Richard Moll from Night Court, Malcolm-Jamal Warner and Tempestt Bledsoe from The Cosby Show, Perry King from Riptide, Joel Higgins and Ricky Schroder from Silver Spoons, Kadeem Hardison from A Different World, and Betty White from The Golden Girls. In an unusual move, René Enríquez from the adult-oriented prime time show Hill Street Blues also hosted a segment.

The PSAs began with an animated sequence that leads into an animated television set on which an actor appeared. After the actor introduces himself or herself, a live-action sequence appeared, in which a child faces an ethical dilemma, which then cuts back to the actor who explains to the viewer how to solve the problem. The child then rectifies the situation. The actor ends the segment by saying, "And that's One to Grow On."

One to Grow On was replaced by The More You Know series of PSAs in September 1989.

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Final years with animated programming (1989–1992)[edit]

In 1989, NBC premiered Saved by the Bell, which originated on The Disney Channel as Good Morning, Miss Bliss. Saved by the Bell, despite harsh reviews from television critics, would become one of the most popular teen-oriented series in television history as well as the number one series on Saturday mornings, dethroning The Bugs Bunny and Tweety Show in its first season.

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List of notable programs[edit]

Note: Shows in bold are in-house productions from NBC.
Saturday morning preview specials[edit]

TNBC (1992–2002)[edit]

In August 1992, NBC abandoned the animated series (ending the entirety of conventional children's programming – animated or otherwise – airing on NBC itself) in favor of a Saturday edition of Today and more live-action series aimed at teenagers as part of the TNBC block. Most of the programs on the TNBC lineup were series produced by Peter Engel such as City Guys, Hang Time, California Dreams, One World and the Saved by the Bell spinoff, Saved by the Bell: The New Class.[1] Also, NBA Inside Stuff was a part of the TNBC lineup during the duration of the NBA season. In 2002, TNBC was renamed Discovery Kids on NBC.

Discovery Kids on NBC (2002–2006)[edit]

On January 6, 2002, NBC entered into an agreement with the Discovery Communications-owned Discovery Kids channel to air that channel's original programming as part of a new block called "Discovery Kids on NBC".[1] Originally, the schedule consisted of only live-action series including Trading Spaces: Boys vs. Girls, a kid-themed version of Trading Spaces and J. D. Roth's Emmy-nominated reality game show Endurance, but later expanded to include some animated series such as Kenny the Shark, Tutenstein and Time Warp Trio. This was a time-lease agreement for NBC to provide E/I-compliant programming to their affiliates rather than having any network input or production. In 2006, Discovery Kids on NBC was renamed Qubo on NBC.

qubo on NBC (2006–2012)[edit]

In May 2006, NBC announced plans to launch a new children's program block on Saturday mornings starting in September 2006 as part of the Qubo endeavor that originally served as a joint venture between parent company NBC Universal, Ion Media Networks (which is now sole owner of Qubo Channel and its related program blocks), Scholastic Press, Classic Media and Corus Entertainment subsidiary Nelvana.[2] Qubo included children's program blocks airing on NBC, co-owned Spanish-language network Telemundo and Ion Media Networks's Ion Television, as well as a 24/7 digital broadcast channel, video on demand services and a branded website. The NBC and Telemundo blocks ended on June 30, 2012; however, Ion Television continues to retain its own Qubo block.

None of the partners has publicly explained why the name "qubo" was chosen, or why its logo is a cube, although in an interview with general manager Rick Rodriguez, he stated that the name was supposed to be something which sounded fun, and could easily be used in both English and Spanish.[3]

When Qubo on NBC began on September 9, 2006, the programs aired as part of the block included VeggieTales, Dragon (TV series), 3-2-1 Penguins!, Babar (TV series), Jane and the Dragon (TV series), Jacob Two-Two (TV series) and Postman Pat. Initially, the VeggieTales broadcasts did not feature the religious content that was incorporated into the videos before and after the main feature. This drew criticism for the block and NBC in particular from the conservative watchdog group Parents Television Council, as well as VeggieTales co-creator Phil Vischer, who claims that he was unaware of the intent to edit out religious content when the program was acquired for Qubo.[4] Starting in 2012, Qubo on NBC was renamed NBC Kids.

NBC Kids (2012–present)[edit]

On March 28, 2012, NBC announced that it would lease its Saturday morning programming time to Sprout (TV network) (which became a sister television property to NBC following its 2010 purchase by Comcast) and launch a new Saturday morning block aimed at preschoolers called NBC Kids. Qubo on NBC ended its run on June 30, 2012. NBC Kids debuted one week later on July 7, 2012.

Scheduling issues[edit]

Not all shows within NBC's Saturday morning block are seen on all stations. Occasionally, some or all programs are subject to delay or pre-emption because of local affiliates scheduling local or syndicated programs, or delayed by the network due to sporting events such as the Summer Olympic Games, the French Open, the USGA's U.S. Open or The Presidents Cup or English Premier League soccer.


  1. ^ a b Bernstein, Paula (December 4, 2001). "Discovery set to kid around with Peacock". Variety. Retrieved 2009-08-13. 
  2. ^ Crupi, Anthony (2006-03-16). "Discovery, NBC to End Sat. Kids Block". Mediaweek. Archived from the original on 2008-02-07. Retrieved 2008-03-25. 
  3. ^ "Qubo's Rodriguez: Offering a 'Building Block’ to Kids". Retrieved 2008-02-16. 
  4. ^ Associated Press (22 September 2006). "God references quashed; 'VeggieTales creator steamed". Entertainment News (Los Angeles, California, United States: CNN). Archived from the original on 4 October 2006. Retrieved 22 June 2009. 

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