MeTV Toons launches today


On Tuesday, the Toons take over WCIU Channel 26.7

Judging by the large number of YouTube videos, Chicago-based Weigel Broadcasting’s new MeTV Toons arriving Tuesday is perhaps the most highly-anticipated digital subchannel in quite some time, if not ever.

After all, some of the content MeTV Toons plans to carry hasn’t been on broadcast television in a long time – The Smurfs, Bugs Bunny, Scooby-Doo, The Jetsons, etc. as many of these shows reigned supreme on Saturday mornings from the 1960s through the 1990s. For one, Bugs Bunny (under various titles) had a weekly presence on network television for 40 years on ABC and CBS, mostly on Saturday mornings until its end in 2000. 

And now Weigel – who launched the most diginets of any broadcaster, is looking to capitalize on the trend of viewers cutting the cord and leaving cable TV behind by launching MeTV Toons with Warner Bros. Discovery – a spin-off of MeTV, which launched in Chicago as a local channel in 2005 and went national in 2010 and is the most-watched diginet in the country. 

“We are honored to work with the amazing team at Warner Bros. Discovery and others on this network and bring together a truly incredible collection of the world’s best known and most loved classic cartoons, creating a new destination for everyone to discover or rediscover the sheer joy of watching cartoons on TV,” said Neal Sabin, vice chairman of Weigel Broadcasting, when the announcement was made in early May. “MeTV Toons will be dedicated 24/7 to showcasing the biggest names and most beloved classic cartoons and animated characters. Everyone has a favorite cartoon; it is a universally loved art form. We are thrilled to bring those smiles and memories back to TV with MeTV Toons.”

Comparisons to Cartoon Network were inevitable; after all, it was Turner Broadcasting who bought Hanna-Barbera in 1991 to launch the cable network a year later. In the late 1990s, Cartoon Network added Warner Bros. cartoons after the company purchased Turner. But in the 2000s, Cartoon Network wanted to focus on original shows, so they created Boomerang to showcase the classic libraries. However, Boomerang had difficulty getting on carriage on numerous cable providers – namely Comcast, who didn’t carry the channel. Years later, the library content was pushed out to make room for older Cartoon Network shows such as The PowerPuff Girls and Dexter’s Laboratory

“The Adventures Of Rocky And Bullwinkle” is one of the late-night offerings om the new MeTV Toons. (Jay Ward Productions)

In January 2021, MeTV added classic animation to its lineup with Toon In With Me featuring live-action wraparounds hosted by Bill Leff and Toony The Tuna, a puppet voiced by Kevin Fleming. Toon In turned out to be a surprise smash hit, despite airing in an early morning daypart more known for newscasts (besides, why would anyone want to start their day with local news given what we see in Chicago daily?) The same week, Saturday Morning Cartoons premiered and was also a smash hit. MeTV also added Jetsons and Flintstones to its Sunday morning lineup. There’s no doubt the success of MeTV’s off-network animated series led to MeTV Toons’ creation. 

MeTV Toons isn’t just home to classic Warner Bros. and Hanna-Barbera cartoons – they’ll also feature content from other studios, such as Harveytoon, DIC, Walter Lantz, and Jay Ward Productions, of Rocky and Bullwinkle fame. Many of these shows were once owned by numerous incarnations of The Program Exchange, who once filled independent stations’ schedules with low-cost animated fare and classic sitcoms. Originally owned by ad agency Dancer Fitzgerald Sample, the Program Exchange pioneered the “barter” concept in syndication in the early 1980s, whereas stations gave up a few local ads in exchange for a bunch of General Mills spots. The irony is Rocky and Bullwinkle were sponsored by General Mills in their original network runs as the company was a longtime DFS client. 

Weigel plans to add more animated series to the lineup – but if you’re a fan of the animation studios not listed – mainly Filmation and DePatie, you may have a long wait. The rights to Filmation’s library are all over the place – for example, CBS Media Ventures holds the rights to Star Trek: The Animated Series and a Hanna-Barbera-produced show from 1970 based on The Harlem Globetrotters while NBCUniversal and Dreamworks Animation hold the rights to the He-Man and the former Group W shows. CBS also owns the rights to Terrytoons library including Mighty Mouse, whose 1979-82 version was produced by Filmation. And it’s unlikely we’ll ever see Fat Albert again, given Bill Cosby’s reputation. 

Still, MeTV Toons will have plenty of fare to satisfy any old-school animation fan’s appetite. The initial schedule features Bugs Bunny And Friends in primetime and Cartoon All-Stars with Rocky & Bullwinkle airing every night at 10 p.m. CT. Scooby-Doo is airing in early fringe (afternoon) at 5 p.m. CT, followed by The Jetsons while The Flintstones is double-run in prime access (6-7 p.m. CT.) A weeknight repeat of Toon In With Me is scheduled for 10:30 p.m. Late Saturday nights are dedicated to animated series from the 1980s and 1990s, such as Duck Dodgers, The Mask, and Police Academy: The Animated Series (to see the entire schedule, click here.)

MeTV Toons launches on WCIU’s channel space in Chicago at 26.7, so you may have to rescan your set. Other Weigel stations carrying MeTV Toons at launch include Milwaukee, Los Angeles, New York, Dallas, St. Louis, Denver, Salt Lake City, and South Bend, Ind. Other groups carrying MeTV Toons on their digital space include Allen Media Group, Bahakel Communications, CBS, Cox, Graham Media, Gray Television, Hubbard Broadcasting, and Tyler Media Group. 

MeTV Toons is also available on low-cost streaming services Philo and Frndly TV. Unfortunately, the channel isn’t offered on other services such as YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV, and Fubo, but that could change over time. A separate FAST channel is also in the works, but it won’t debut until later this year. 

With the arrival of MeTV Toons, Weigel now either owns and/or operates nine diginet channels. The most recent addition was Dabl, who changed formats to Black-oriented sitcoms last December and took over managerial and programming operations in a shared services agreement with CBS. 


2 thoughts on “MeTV Toons launches today

    • I was so looking forward to this new channel. Even my friend in England was excited about this channel, hoping they would get it over there eventually. I have frndly TV streaming service and checked there today for it. I was disappointed to see a message pop up that it is not available in my service area or something like that. I’m in the Chicagoland area so unsure how I’m out of the area. Hopefully, things will work out.

    • I stand corrected. I checked just over 90 minutes ago, and Me TV Toons is included now in the menu on my frndly TV. I’m very glad to see that it is available. I apologize for my earlier comments.

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