The press release announcing that SOAPnet is going away isn't a surprise. It is somewhat surprising though that the channel is being completely replaced with Disney Junior. It seemed like becoming another Lifetime or WE was the direction the company has been going the past few years.
Perhaps if SOAPnet had maintained its original vision, it could have been a real destination for current and classic daytime soaps, and even originals. Soaps continue to thrive in primetime, cable, internationally and on the web. Being at the forefront of the next revolution in continuing drama could have been a good position to be in but Disney/ABC was obviously not interested in that. (a 30-minute indie show featuring the best 3-5 indie soaps of the week would have been a great start). It opens the door for someone else to step up to the plate and help fill that void. SOAPnet will be around about 18 more months.
DISNEY/ABC TELEVISION GROUP ANNOUNCES DISNEY JUNIOR, A NEW24-HOUR CHANNEL FOR PRESCHOOLERS AND THEIR FAMILIES
Disney/ABC Television Group will launch Disney Junior, a new multiplatform brand and 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel and online site devoted to preschool-age children. Scheduled to debut in the U.S. in 2012, Disney Junior will invite mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7.
The new Disney Junior brand will also provide affiliate partners with a robust Video-On-Demand offering, a High-definition network and a Spanish language SAP feed.
Disney Junior’s animated and live action programming will blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills.
The 24-hour Disney Junior schedule will include 200 new episodes annually of both new series, including “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” and current hits, including “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Handy Manny,” “Special Agent Oso,” “Imagination Movers” and “Jungle Junction.” Disney’s vast array of classic and contemporary movies, including among others “101 Dalmatians,” “Aladdin” and “Little Mermaid,” will be showcased.
In the U.S., the new Disney Junior channel will take the place of the SOAPnet channel, currently available in 75 million homes. Prior to the launch of the 24-hour channel, the Disney Junior brand will be introduced on Disney Channel’s daily programming block for preschoolers (currently branded Playhouse Disney).
Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said: “The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the UK. The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly. SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company.”
Carolina Lightcap, president, Disney Channels Worldwide, said: “Around the world, our Disney-branded channels are burgeoning, distinguished by the special place Disney has in the hearts of kids — who delight in our characters and stories — and parents who trust our commitment to entertaining and helping their preschoolers, kids and tweens grow through engaging, relevant programming.” She continued, “By adding a dedicated U.S. channel for preschoolers to our global portfolio, we look forward to enhancing that sense of magical storytelling and parental trust, and expanding our offerings, locally and globally, from morning to night, to deliver more Disney-quality content that will resonate with generations to come.”
Outside the U.S., the 22 Playhouse Disney channels and blocks, currently available in 29 languages in 156 countries/territories, reaching over 45 million households, will be rebranded Disney Junior beginning in 2011.
Disney’s flagship TV content provider, Disney Channel, is the leader in the Kid and Tween (age 6-14) demographic with hit series (including “Hannah Montana,” “Phineas and Ferb” and “Wizards of Waverly Place”), and the gold-standard in original movies for kids and families (including “Camp Rock,” “High School Musical”). In the U.S., across all basic cable, Disney Channel Original Movies have produced basic cable’s #1 movie with Kids 6-11 and/or Tweens from 2002-09.
For 2009, Disney Channel U.S. was TV’s #1 network in Total Day among Tweens 9-14, recording its largest annual Total Viewer and Kid 6-11 audiences in the channel’s history, and tied 2007 as its top-rated year in Tweens 9-14. Disney Channel was cable’s #2 channel in primetime in Total Viewers, the fourth consecutive year it has ranked either #1 or #2 among all cable networks. Among its target demos, Disney Channel primetime was #1 for the seventh consecutive year among Kids 6-11 and for the ninth consecutive year among Tweens 9-14. Disney Channel’s daily Playhouse Disney block delivered all-time highs in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Girls 2-5, Boys 2-5 and Women 18-49 for the year.
Disney XD was introduced in February 2009 with a demographic target of Kids age 6-14, especially boys, and has 2010-to-date exceeded the year-ago equivalent period by 32% in Boys 6-14, by 30% in Boys 6-11 and by 34% in Boys 9-14.