Fox Kids was a Saturday morning and weekday afternoon (and weekday morning for a while) programming block that aired from 1990 to 2002 on Fox. Besides it's own in-house productions, it also aired shows produced by Saban Entertainment and/or Marvel Productions, as well as those made by DiC Entertainment, Warner Bros. Animation, Universal Cartoon Studios, and Gaumont Multimedia/Xilam. It often aired on Fox owned-and-operated stations, though it also aired on those owned by UPN, The WB, and independent stations.
It started as a result of a dispute between Disney and Fox founder Barry Diller over carriage of The Disney Afternoon, which was set to air on Disney's newly-purchased station, KCAL-9 in Los Angeles (now owned by CBS), rather than Fox station KTTV-11, which had aired DuckTales (1987) and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers by that point. Long story short, Diller rallied against Disney and the four-year-old network started their own kids' division. Much like its prime-time counterpart, Fox Kidsnote had a different scheduling pattern than the Big 3; it aired three hours on Saturdays, and a half-hour on weekdays, something none of the Big 3 have done since 1982, when CBS booted Captain Kangaroo from weekdays in favor of national news. Eventually, as its ratings grew, it was expanded to four hours on Saturdays and three hours on weekdays; it also gained a fan club and magazine (which could be customized for each individual station). However, as the years wore on, possibly thanks to the Moral Guardians pouncing on Power Rangers, the censorship they'd subject their series to got increasingly ridiculous- Woody Woodpecker couldn't peck people on the head, and the stuff they imposed on the staff of Spider-Man: The Animated Series is legendary.
Starting with the launch of Fox Kids on STAR TV in Asia-Pacific and Australia on Foxtel in 1995, Fox Kids started to expand internationally as their own cable channels. By the end of its American life, Fox Kids channels could be seen in Latin America, Europe and Asia-Pacific, which aired some Marvel shows not shown on the U.S. block.
They also aired a mini-block called The Fox Cubhouse, which was aimed at preschoolers. This would last from 1994 to 1996.
The death of Fox Kids has its roots in two separate moves in 1994 and 1996. First, Fox's deal with New World Communications (founded by Roger Corman and owned Marvel and Genesis Entertainment and purchased by Ronald Perelman) to acquire several VHF stations led to Fox Kids being separated from its parent network in many markets, as most of the new Fox affiliates didn't want anything to do with the block (see Disaster Dominoes for more on that whole mess). This relegated Fox Kids to one of two options in the affected markets: be carried by a station taking up a rival network affiliation, or move to a low-rated independent. note The second move came in 1996 when Saban Entertainment bought a stake in the networknote . This meant that the company was now a joint venture called "Fox Kids Worldwide" (to account for the international FK networks). The next year, they bought a network called The Family Channelnote . They renamed the network to the Fox Family Channel (with the company itself being renamed "Fox Family Worldwide"), and it became a hub for Fox Kids' programming, as well as programming from Teletoon and YTV. Unfortunately, the network struggled in the ratings, thanks to infighting between Fox and Saban over who ran the channel, no clear strategy, mediocre reaction to their new programming, and an ill-fated attempt to create "Boyz" and "Girlz" networks on digital cable. But the issues really came to a head in 1999 when rival Kids' WB! picked up the broadcasting rights to Pokémon, whose surging popularity reached epitomic levels once the show made the move and helped Kids' WB! overtake Fox Kids that year. Fox Kids attempted to counter the show's popularity by picking up Digimon, starting with Digimon Adventure. While that show got its fans, it was nowhere near close to being competitive with Pokemon. With the combined double whammy of the increasing audience share of cable networks Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, and Fox Family posting a 35% audience drop by 2001, Saban and Fox needed to sell in order to avoid further money drainage. Saban's production houses and the in-house Fox Kids library (which included most of the Marvel Productions and DePatie-Freleng catalog, not including co-productions with Warner Bros., Sunbow Entertainment/Hasbro, and United Artists) were bundled with the channel in the sale. Long story short, Disney won the bid for Fox Family (now known as Freeform) in late 2001, effectively giving them the last laugh after the aforementioned dispute 11 years ago, and Fox put the time space up for bidding. The winner? 4Kids Entertainment.
The operations of Fox Kids were moved to Fox's in-house studios in LA until the fall of 2002, when 4Kids took over and named their block Fox Box, and later 4Kids TV. The block came to an end at the end of 2008 due to issues with Fox (they'd already gotten their hands on Kids' WB!'s time space on The CW by that time), and now the latter half of the space airs infomercials, while the earlier half was given back to the affiliates, allowing them to run the required E/I programs; Fox later partnered with Steve Rotfeld Productions to show the Xploration Station block on several Fox stations, including several that refused to show any other blocks, such as former New World stations owned by Fox and Tribune.
Meanwhile, Disney moved the "Kids" moniker over to ABC, replacing their previous One Saturday Morning block, and shared new Power Rangers episodes until the creation of the Jetix block on ABC Family and Toon Disney, at which point Jetix took over premieres until Power Rangers RPM, which aired exclusively on ABC Kids, as did a re-versioning of the first season until Saban Brands bought back the rights. All of the international Fox Kids channels (except the Australian one which was retained by Fox, but later shut down anyway) became Jetix, and most later became Disney XD, though a few Eastern European countries got their own version of Disney Channel instead.
Fox Kids is widely held in high regard by people raised in The '90s. A side effect of this includes substantial misblame directed towards both Disney and 4Kids for supposedly destroying the block, even though the reality (as explained above) was more complex than that.
Since Disney's purge of the Fox Kids name off its channels, Fox itself started an In Name Only Fox Kids block in Finland. That block was shut down in January 2019, several months before Disney ended up buying Fox's entertainment and international assets and effectively, in a way, bringing Fox Kids back under its former corporate roof (though the Fox network, US non-regional sports properties and news properties stayed with Rupert Murdoch, while Power Rangers has since been sold by Saban to Hasbro). Only the Marvel shows aired on Fox Kids are available on the Disney+ streaming service since 2019.
Shows featured on Fox Kids (and Fox Family), in alphabetical order:
- Attack of the Killer Tomatoes!
- Bobby's World
- Fun House (third and final season only)
- Peter Pan & the Pirates
- Piggsburg Pigs!
- Tom & Jerry Kids
- Zazoo U
- Beetlejuice (season 4 only)
- Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventures (moved from CBS, with production shifting to DiC Entertainment)
- Little Dracula
- Little Shop
- Swamp Thing
- Dark Water (initial miniseries only; moved into syndication, and to ABC)
- Batman: The Animated Series
- Dog City
- Eek! The Cat
- Merrie Melodies Starring Bugs Bunny & Friends (moved from syndication)
- Tiny Toon Adventures (third and final season only)
- Johnson and Friends (as part of The Fox Cubhouse)
- Life with Louie
- Spider-Man: The Animated Series
- The Tick
- Thunderbirds (edited half-hour versions, for a brief time in the summer of 94)
- Where on Earth Is Carmen Sandiego?
- Goosebumps (later renamed to Ultimate Goosebumps)
- Magic Adventures of Mumfie (ran as part of the Fox Cubhouse, and by itself during the last week of 1996. The show's Christmas special also ran as a stand-alone program. It was also later reran on Fox Family)
- Masked Rider
- The Adventures of Sam & Max: Freelance Police
- Eerie, Indiana (reruns from NBC, though the popularity of the reruns led FK to revive it as Eerie Indiana: The Other Dimension).
- Ned's Newt (imported from Canada)
- Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation
- Power Rangers Turbo
- Round the Twist (imported from Australia; only select episodes from seasons one and two aired)
- Space Goofs
- Stickin' Around (imported from Canada and shown with parts cut to make room for commercials)
- The Adventures of Shirley Holmes
- Bad Dog
- Donkey Kong Country (special episodes only; aired in its entirety on Fox Family)
- Godzilla: The Series
- Mad Jack the Pirate
- The Magic School Bus reruns
- Monster Farm
- The Mr. Potato Head Show
- The Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nóg
- Oggy and the Cockroaches
- Power Rangers in Space
- The Secret Files of The Spy Dogsnote
- Silver Surfer
- Young Hercules
- The Avengers: United They Stand
- Beast Machines
- Beast Wars
- Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot
- The Magician
- NASCAR Racers
- The New Woody Woodpecker Show
- Power Rangers Lost Galaxy
- Sherlock Holmes in the 22nd Century
- Xyber 9: New Dawn
- Action Man (2000) (not to be confused with the earlier DIC Entertainment series)
- Angela Anaconda
- Cyber Six
- Digimon Adventure 02
- Flint the Time Detective
- Monster Rancher (reruns only; originally aired in syndication)
- Moolah Beach (similar format later used for the Discovery Kids show Endurance)
- Power Rangers Lightspeed Rescue
- The Vision of Escaflowne (as Escaflowne)
- Alienators: Evolution Continuesnote
- Digimon Tamers
- Los Luchadores
- Mon Colle Knights
- Power Rangers Time Force
- The Ripping Friends (from Ren and Stimpy creator John Kricfalusi.)