Fox Kids Network got an early start on the fall season last Saturday, taking its broadcast competition to the cleaners in the process.

Against repeat competition on ABC and Kids’ WB, Fox Kids won the morning with a 2.8 rating among kids 2-11. Among all kids programmers, however, Nickelodeon was by far the morning champ, scoring a 4.2 rating in the demo.

The kids networks usually don’t unveil their new Saturday morning programming until September, when the tots are back in school and talking about that rad new cartoon they just watched. But Fox Kids execs decided to get an early jump on the competition this year.

As a result, in the kids 6-11 demo on Aug. 19, Fox Kids (3.1 rating) soared far ahead of ABC (2.2) and WB (2.0). (Nick still won the demo with a 5.1 rating.)

Monster mash

Fueling Fox Kids’ surge was its take on the mini-monster phenom, “Digimon: Digital Monsters.” The series’ 9 a.m. installment won the morning among broadcast outlets and took its timeslot with a 4.8 rating. In second place was “Digimon’s” 10:30 installment, which averaged a 4.3.

Season debuts of “Beast Machines” and “Action Man” also entered the top 10. Fox Kids’ debut was down slightly from last year, when the net averaged a 3.1 among kids 2-11 and 3.7 with kids 6-11. But that debut was on Sept. 18, with the school season already under way.

Among all outlets, Nickelodeon took the top five Saturday morning slots, led by “SpongeBobSquarePants,” with a 5.3 rating. Nick has won Saturday morning for 22 consecutive weeks in the kids 2-11 demo.