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Disney Channel
TypeCable television network
CountryUnited States
HeadquartersBurbank, California
OwnerDisney-ABC Television Group
(The Walt Disney Company)

Disney Channel is an American basic cable and satellite television network, owned by the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company under the direction of Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney. The channel's headquarters are located on West Alameda Ave. in Burbank, California. Disney Channels Worldwide, currently run by President Carolina Lightcap, is a global portfolio of more than 90 kid-driven, family inclusive entertainment channels and/or channel feeds available in over 160 countries and 30 languages. The platform brands are Disney Channel, Disney XD, Playhouse Disney, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama TV and Radio Disney.

The channel specializes in programming for children through original series and movies, as well as third-party programming. It is marketed mostly toward young children, with the exception of their weekend primetime block that is aimed at pre-teens and teenagers ages 9–15, and the Playhouse Disney programming block that is aimed at children ages 2–5; however, in recent years the diversity of viewers has increased with an older audience, typically teenagers, young adults and young families.

Since November 19, 2010, the channel is offered with an alternate Spanish-language audio feed, either via a separate channel as part of a Spanish-language network package sold by cable and satellite providers or via a separate audio track with the SAP option, depending on the system.


Conception and launch (1977–1983)

In early 1977, Jim Jimirro of Walt Disney Productions brought forth the idea of a cable television network with material from the studio.[1] Since the company was focusing on the Epcot Center, Disney chairman Card Walker[2] turned down the proposal.[3] Disney tried again in 1982, planning a partnership with the satellite unit of Group W; the deal never came to fruition.[3] In late 1982, the Disney Channel was formed under the leadership of its first president, Alan Wagner.[4] Disney later invested US$11 million on two transponders of Galaxy 1, a Hughes Communications satellite, and spent US$20 million on programming.[3]

By 1983, Walt Disney Productions announced its launch of a cable channel that would entertain families with the magic of Disney throughout the years. The channel launched nationally on April 18, 1983 at 7 a.m. ET[5] with the Disney Channel-produced series Good Morning, Mickey![6] At the time of its launch, Disney Channel was a premium channel that aired for 16 hours a day,[4] from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT (6 a.m.-10 p.m. CT, 8 a.m.-midnight MT).[5] During its first full year, the channel was available to more than 532,000 subscribers in the U.S.[7] In April 1984, the channel extended its programming day to 18 hours a day by adding two hours to its late night schedule (7 a.m.-1 a.m. ET/PT, 6 a.m.-midnight CT, 8 a.m.-2 a.m. MT).[8]

Early years (1983–1997)

Shows airing during its broadcast day during this time included Welcome to Pooh Corner and You and Me Kid along with several foreign animated series and movies including Asterix, The Raccoons, Paddington Bear, and the Australian western Five Mile Creek; the original late night schedule featured reruns of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. Subscribers initially received a monthly program guide/magazine, but years later it was phased out.[5] Disney Channel received a special citation from the United States president Ronald Reagan in 1984.[citation needed] On December 1, 1986, Disney Channel began broadcasting on a 24-hour-a-day schedule.[9]

Disney Channel headquarters in Burbank, California.

Early in 1986, the musical sitcom Kids Incorporated, about a pre-teen (and later teen-to-young adult) gang of friends who formed a pop group, mixing their everyday situations with variety-show and music video style performances, became a hit for the channel; and during its 9-year run, spawned many future stars in both music and acting, including Martika (who went by her real name of Marta Marrero in the show's first season), eventual Party of Five co-stars Scott Wolf and Jennifer Love Hewitt (billed as Love Hewitt), and Stacy Ferguson (now known as Fergie of The Black Eyed Peas).

In 1988, Good Morning, Miss Bliss, a starring vehicle for Hayley Mills of Polyanna and The Parent Trap fame, made its debut; the series was cancelled after 13 episodes due to low ratings. NBC picked up the series in 1989, retooled as Saved by the Bell, with Miss Bliss actors Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies and Dennis Haskins carried over to the new show; Saved by the Bell achieved major success on NBC's Saturday morning lineup (producing two spinoffs in the process) and in worldwide syndication.

In early 1989, the channel revived one of the company's early TV staples with The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, which was an immediate hit and proved the basic Disney variety show formula could still work, unlike in the short-lived 1970s revival. The latest version contained many of the classic elements from "theme days" to updated mouseketeer jackets, but the scripted and musical segments were more contemporary. MMC had a stellar young cast, launching the careers of future stars Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell and others. By 1995, Disney Channel was seen in more than 8 million homes across the United States.[10]

Zoog & Vault Disney (1997–2002)

In 1997 (but in some markets starting as early as 1994), Disney Channel began transitioning from a premium cable channel to being offered via expanded basic cable, officially doing so by 2000 (or as late as 2004 in some markets). [citation needed] It was at this time that Disney Channel started to gain viewers. Prior to 1997, Disney Channel would air week-long previews four times a year, as well as two free preview weekends periodically (with ads targeted to non-subscribers), in the same manner as other premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime. Even though Disney Channel was no longer considered a premium channel, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association had long continued to rank the channel's subscriber base among all U.S. premium channels in its cable subscription total rankings rather than among basic cable networks (this total is now ranked in the NCTA's basic cable subscriber rankings).

In 1997, Disney Channel took on a revamped look and dropped the word "The" in the network's name (however, promos often referred to the channel as simply "Disney" and the logo often omitted the "Channel" in the network's name), and split the network into three programming blocks: Playhouse Disney, comprising of shows aimed at preschoolers; Vault Disney, featuring classic Disney material such as Zorro, The Mickey Mouse Club, the Walt Disney anthology television series, older television specials and features such as The Love Bug; and the most distinct one, running from afternoon to late evening for teenagers, called Zoog Disney, which used anthropomorphic characters called "Zoogs", who resembled robots (but the Zoog characters were given human voices) as its hosts. The Zoog Disney block was introduced in 1998, shortly after the Toon Disney cable channel was launched. From September 2001 to August 2002, the entire weekend lineup (except for the Vault Disney and Playhouse Disney lineups) was branded as "Zoog Weekendz".

The Zoogs original look was two-dimensional; however, the Zoogs were redesigned in 2001, with a more three-dimensional design and mature voices, but were phased out after less than a year. A new channel logo (which featured a 1930s-era Mickey Mouse on a black Mickey ear-shaped TV), was also introduced in 1997. The channel also began to carry break interruptions (not featuring commercial advertisements, but promos for network programming and eventually promotions for Disney-produced feature film and home video releases). Disney Channel's original programming during this period began with Flash Forward in 1997 and continued with shows like The Famous Jett Jackson, So Weird, Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens, and Kim Possible, among others.

Disney Channel: Relaunched (2002–2007)

In September 2002, Disney Channel was gradually remodeled once more. First, the "Zoog" brand name was phased out from on-air usage; the "Zoog" name continued under a separate website until 2003, when it was merged with Disney Channel's main website. Then on September 9, 2002, the Vault Disney block was discontinued (primarily to contribute to the network's new "hip" image) in favor of same-day repeats of the channel's original programming and off-network series. Primetime movies were also cut to one each night (from two). The channel also ceased producing drama and reality series, shifting focus to live-action comedies and animated series; the logo on the right was implemented a month later. As a result of these changes, of the three blocks introduced in 1997, only Playhouse Disney continues to this day (though the block will be rebranded as Disney Junior in February 2011). Around the same time, Disney Channel partnered with corporate sister ABC to run the channel's programming on ABC's Saturday morning block.

Anne Sweeney, a veteran cable executive, took control of Disney-ABC Television Group in 2004 and successfully remade Disney Channel into "the major profit driver in the company."[11] By 2008, Condé Nast Portfolio was able to note that the Channel "has been adding a million viewers a month—every month—for the last five years," and also called the Channel "the greatest teen-star incubator since the NBA stopped drafting high schoolers."[11] Sweeney's successful strategy was to discover, nurture, and aggressively cross-promote teen music stars whose style and image were carefully targeted to pre-teens and teenagers.

Beginning around that time while Disney Channel's intended target audience are preschoolers, pre-teens and young adolescents, the channel began to quickly gain in popularity and created increased competition with Viacom-owned Nickelodeon and the channel began to add viewers outside the main target audience and make teen idols out of some of the channel's stars. Though Disney Channel has increased its viewership to rival that of Nickelodeon, Disney Channel has yet to unseat Nickelodeon in the Nielsen ratings as the highest-rated basic cable channel among total viewers (ages 2+) and all kid demos.

In 2003, Disney Channel released its first ever musical made-for-cable movie called The Cheetah Girls; it received 84 million viewers worldwide. The success of The Cheetah Girls led to the creation of other music-themed original programming such as the original movie High School Musical and the original sitcom Hannah Montana. In 2005, That's So Raven became the network's highest-rated series since the network's move to basic cable; as well as being the first Disney Channel Original Series to beat the 65-episode limit (the channel had formerly imposed a highly controversial programming rule in 1998, that guaranteed that any original series would end after 65 episodes as a move to prevent production cost increases, though this rule is no longer enforced); the series eventually hit 100 episodes, becoming the channel's longest-running original series and became the first to spawn a spin-off (Cory in the House, which was cancelled midway through its second season). The Suite Life of Zack & Cody also debuted in 2005, becoming a hit for the channel. 2006 saw the debut of the hit original movie High School Musical; that year also saw the debut of Hannah Montana, which launched the career of its star Miley Cyrus, herself the daughter of popular 1990s country singer Billy Ray Cyrus, who co-stars in the series. On July 28 of that year saw the debut of the channel's first crossover, That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana (involving That's So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana).

Disney Channel Today (2007-present)

In 2007, Disney Channel cut down on the number of original movie and series premieres over the course of the calendar year, limiting to four Disney Channel Original Movies and two Disney Channel Original Series premiering each year. The most successful Disney Channel Original Movie to date is High School Musical 2 which premiered on August 17 of that year to 17.2 million viewers, the highest-rated scripted cable telecast ever. The channel abandoned its uniform schedules for weekday and weekend afternoons (with the exception of the 7-8 p.m. ET time period), to run a five-hour (later six hours, now five hours again) schedule featuring hour-long blocks of various original series (and the off-network programming that remained on the channel) with the schedule changing each day.

That year, Disney Channel remodeled its on-air presentation; the Disney Channel logo, instead of bouncing around the screen, turned into a ribbon, swirling around the screen until forming the Disney Channel logo. Promo cards and bumpers were changed to an abstract atmosphere with ribbon theming and themed to the programs, as opposed to abstract objects bouncing and moving in the screen. Also, the font was changed from Digital to Placard MT Bold. Bumpers were updated as well; instead of the Disney Channel logo popping up and delivering a message, the ribbon swirled up, formed the Disney Channel logo, and another ribbon swirled out with the message.

Promos for the next program began to only advertise the program airing afterwards and were moved from between shows to near the end of the final promo break of an episode, while a ribbon banner promoting the current program and the two programs afterwards now appeared on the bottom of the screen after the end of each promo break from 11 a.m.-8 p.m. ET. Slightly modified versions of these graphics fit for high definition were introduced in September 2008. The channel also moved its original series (mostly the live-action shows) from late afternoon to primetime on weekends from 8-9 p.m. ET (The Friday block is preempted when a Disney Channel Original Movie is scheduled to premiere that night; the Saturday block has aired on a periodic basis since the change and now serves as a block repeating the previous week's new episodes; and the Sunday block was added in January 2008). In July 2009, Disney Channel extended its Friday lineup to two hours in primetime from 8-10 p.m. ET, dropping the primetime movie and a double movie feature which was added on Saturday nights, which was mostly dropped in March 2010.

2007 saw the debut of two new original series, the That's So Raven spinoff Cory in the House which ended after two seasons (a possible casualty of the 2007 Writer's Guild strike, which caused freshman or sophomore series whose production was interrupted midway through the season to eventually be cancelled), and the popular Wizards of Waverly Place, starring Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin. 2008 saw the premieres of Phineas and Ferb (the first original series broadcast in high definition) and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody spin-off, The Suite Life on Deck, along with Disney Channel Original Movies such as Camp Rock, Minutemen and The Cheetah Girls: One World. The Suite Life on Deck became the number one series in the respective categories in kids ages 6–12 and teens ages 9–14 in 2008.[12]

In 2009, Disney Channel launched two new series: Sonny with a Chance starring Demi Lovato in February, and JONAS starring the Jonas Brothers in May. New movies in 2009 included: Dadnapped, Hatching Pete, Princess Protection Program, and Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie. The four original movies for 2009 each featured at least two stars from Disney Channel's original series. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie also became the highest-rated cable program of 2009 (excluding sporting events), premiering to 11.4 million viewers and becoming the second highest-rated DCOM premiere in history. The premiere of the crossover special Wizards on Deck with Hannah Montana (involving Wizards of Waverly Place, The Suite Life on Deck and Hannah Montana) also beat out its competition (both cable and broadcast network programming) on the night of its premiere with 9.1 million viewers (making it the highest-rated episodes of Wizards and On Deck to date). In late October 2009, Disney Channel premiered a new short series called: Have a Laugh![13][14] These 4 to 5 minute segments would include re-dubbed versions of classic Disney Cartoons. The first of which premiered on October 26, 2009: Lonesome Ghosts.

A new alternate logo featuring the current logo within a box resembling that of a "Smartphone" application icon came into use on May 7, 2010 (though the logo was first seen in March 2010, and at the time was exclusively used on the weekend evening lineup), with a slow roll-out of a new imaging campaign that was completed in that month's Memorial Day weekend. Disney also started their campaign "It's On!" in June as part of their Summer 2010 lineup.

In 2010 the channel launched its first original sitcom intentionally targeted at family audiences: Good Luck Charlie, starring Bridgit Mendler and Jason Dolley, a series some have compared to the shows on sister network ABC's former TGIF comedy lineup of the 1990s; as well as the premiere of the final season of Hannah Montana (officially renamed Hannah Montana Forever for the final season's episodes) and the return of Jonas as the retooled Jonas L.A., which ended that October. Disney Channel also planned four original movies: Starstruck starring Sterling Knight, Danielle Campbell, Brandon Mychal Smith and Chelsea Staub, Den Brother starring Hutch Dano and G. Hannelius, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam starring Joe, Nick and Kevin Jonas, and Demi Lovato, and Avalon High starring Britt Robertson and Gregg Sulkin; two other made-for-TV movies produced for Disney Channel in association with Canadian cable channels debuted as well: Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars (produced in association with pay services Movie Central and The Movie Network) starring Jennifer Stone and 16 Wishes (produced in association with Family Channel) starring Debby Ryan.

That fall, two new series debuted: the animated series, Fish Hooks, and the buddy sitcom Shake It Up starring Bella Thorne and Zendaya.


Main articles: List of programs broadcast by Disney Channel and List of Disney Channel series

Current programming on Disney Channel includes Hannah Montana, Wizards of Waverly Place, Sonny with a Chance, The Suite Life on Deck, Fish Hooks, Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up! and Phineas and Ferb; reruns of discontinued Disney Channel original series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and occasional airings of the Disney XD original series Pair of Kings also air. Unlike the majority of cable channels, all of Disney Channel's original scripted programs (including those on the Playhouse Disney block) feature tag scenes during the closing credits. Disney Channel also airs short-form programs known as "short shows", which air more commonly on the Playhouse Disney block than on other Disney Channel programming; the channel also frequently airs music videos, mainly featuring Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records artists as well as songs featured in newer Disney feature films (the original long versions of these music videos typically air only during the video's premiere and as filler between programs, while shorter versions usually air during promo breaks during the current program).

Disney Channel mostly produces and airs original sitcoms that are geared toward teenage girls and also airs a moderate amount of animated series geared more towards upper-elementary and middle school-age children. Series produced by Walt Disney Television or production companies unrelated to the Walt Disney Company used to make up most of the schedule; nowadays, with the explosion of Disney Channel Original Series, these series have almost completely been dropped from the channel.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Disney Channel aired classic Disney animated shorts (that were largely made when Walt Disney headed his namesake company); they were largely removed from the lineup in 2000, however their presence has returned as of 2009 with the addition of the short series have a laugh!. On December 14, 2008, it was announced that Disney Channel in the U.S. would bring back the animated block, which aired from 12-6 a.m. ET. The animated block was added to Disney Channel during the late night hours after Christmas Day 2008.

Some of Disney Channel's programming seems to appeal to teenage girls with shows like Hannah Montana and Lizzie McGuire. Disney Channel has aired some programming more appealing to teenage boys with Aaron Stone and other such Disney XD shows in 2009. The programs that premiered on Disney Channel in 2010 are the family sitcom Good Luck Charlie, the animated series Fish Hooks and the dance-centric sitcom Shake It Up.

Disney Channel typically imposes an unwritten "6-to-a-cast" rule as its original series generally have no more than six contract cast members; its series also have only between 6 and 8 credited staff writers (fewer than the 8 to 11 writers standard with most scripted television series). Its multi-camera sitcoms, which use the classic studio audience/laugh track format, are shot on videotape (note that these shows have Video Control Operators, Video Tape Operators and Technical Directors listed in the closing credits) and use a simulated film look. Multi-camera series that debuted and/or ran between 2003 and 2008 (e.g., That's So Raven, Cory in the House, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, etc.) used the FilmLook image processing; all original series that debuted either as a new series or with a new season from 2009 onward, are broadcast in high definition and use the HD-compatible 'filmizing' technique, reducing the videotape frame rate to 24p.

Programming blocks

Playhouse Disney

Disney Channel currently programs shows targeted at preschool-age children on Monday through Fridays from 4 a.m.-2 p.m. and weekends from 4-9 a.m. ET/PT, called Playhouse Disney. During the summer months, the Playhouse Disney block ends at 9 a.m. ET/PT on weekdays. As of 2010, the only programming featuring classic Disney characters is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on the Playhouse Disney block, and the Have a Laugh! short films on the network itself. Programming in this block includes Special Agent Oso, Imagination Movers, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction and My Friends Tigger & Pooh.

On May 26, 2010 it was announced that the Playhouse Disney block will be rebranded under the name Disney Junior, and on November 5, 2010 it was announced the block would be rebranded as Disney Junior in February 2011.[15] Disney Junior will later become its own digital cable and satellite channel in January 2012, replacing SOAPnet. The Disney Junior channel will be a direct competitor to Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. channel and PBS and Comcast's PBS Kids Sprout.[16]

Weekend evening blocks

Disney Channel airs first-run or recent episodes of its original series over the course of three nights, branded as "Disney Channel (day of week) Night". The Friday night schedule features The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place, Phineas & Ferb and Fish Hooks, while Sunday nights feature Hannah Montana, Sonny with a Chance, Good Luck Charlie and Shake It Up!. Programming on both night's schedules as of October 2010 is somewhat fluid, as while all series have a permanent place on the Friday and Sunday primetime schedules, episode premieres of all of Disney Channel's original series are subject to being rotated on and off the schedule depending on which episodes are scheduled for that week as they usually air as part of a 90-minute block from 8-9:30 p.m. ET/PT on Fridays and Sundays.

The Saturday night schedule usually features repeats of recent episodes of the channel's original series and occasional airings of movies, after an attempt in early 2009 to use the night to launch a beachhead against Nickelodeon's Saturday night block with the premiere of JONAS and the move of Wizards of Waverly Place from Fridays to Saturdays proved unsuccessful. Encores of each night's programs typically air during the midnight-3 a.m. timeslot each night in reverse fashion.

Seasonal programming blocks


The network runs summer programming blocks every year with differing themes and names; generally most of the network's series run new episodes through the summer and Original Movies premiere in these months to take advantage of the largest possible children's audience, as do most children's networks.


The network's October schedule usually focuses on Halloween programming, with the title of the branding changing every year. Halloween films such as the Halloweentown series have premiered in this month, along with Twitches, Twitches Too, The Scream Team and Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, along with Halloween episodes of Original Series. A minor block in April called Halloween in April serves the same purpose as Christmas in July.

New Year's Events

A tradition going back to the Zoog Disney days in 2000, the network airs a marathon into the early morning of New Year's Day of programs, films and moments deemed the best by viewer vote on, followed by an Original Series marathon on New Year's Day. As with summer and Halloween, the New Year's block has a name change yearly. The 2010 iteration will feature the Shake it Up! cast hosting the marathon.

Disney Channel Games

Main article: Disney Channel Games

Debuting in 2006, the Disney Channel Games included Disney Channel Original Series and Movies actors and took place at the Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World. The 2007 and 2008 events included actors from international Disney Channel series. The last DCG event was held in 2008.

Movie library

Main article: List of Disney Channel Original Movies

A film is broadcast every weekday afternoon and most nights during the week, but not necessarily a theatrically released feature film. Disney Channel airs new original films, called Disney Channel Original Movies (or DCOMs), about 4–6 times a year, and those are frequently broadcast during the prime-time slot. In 2000, Disney Channel claimed to produce a new movie each month; this only lasted throughout that same year. Disney Channel began producing its Original Movies in 1997 with the premiere of Northern Lights. The number of DCOMs per year began to increase – from two in 1997 to three in 1998 to a high of twelve in 2000.

High School Musical 2 is the most successful DCOM in popularity and awards, setting a cable record for most viewers of a basic cable program, when its August 2007 debut scored 17.2 million, a record that stood until the December 3, 2007 Monday Night Football matchup between the New England Patriots and Baltimore Ravens on corporate sibling ESPN surpassed it with 17.5 million viewers (it still remains the most-watched scripted program in cable television history). The Cheetah Girls films are also notably successful, with huge merchandise sales, sold-out concert tours and soundtrack sales. The first film was the first TV movie musical in Disney Channel history. It saw over 84 million viewers worldwide. The second movie was the most successful of the series, bringing in 8.1 million viewers in the U.S. It scored an 86-date concert tour, and was on the top 10 tours of 2006; the tour broke a record at the Houston Rodeo that was set by Elvis Presley in 1973. The concert sold out with 73,500 tickets sold in three minutes.

Film rights for much of the channel are shared by sister network ABC Family. The network also has rights to many films not released by Disney (either because the studio does not have a children's network or has one that is incompatible with their focus), such as Warner Bros.' (Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone (known in the US as Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone), Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets), Universal Pictures (Beethoven, An American Tail, The Land Before Time), The Weinstein Company (Hoodwinked, The Magic Roundabout), Sony Pictures (Stuart Little, Stuart Little 2, Hook), Lionsgate (Happily N'ever After), 20th Century Fox (Ice Age, the Home Alone film series, Catch That Kid), Paramount (Bon Voyage, Charlie Brown (and Don't Come Back!!)). Also, another non-Disney Christmas themed film, such asThe Polar Express have aired. Other non-Disney films over the years have included Little Secrets, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, Another Cinderella Story and Race for Your Life, Charlie Brown just to name a few. Films produced by current Disney subsidiary The Jim Henson Company have also aired on Disney Channel in the past, although most of them are not presently owned by Disney, including The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, Buddy, The Muppet Movie, The Muppets Take Manhattan, The Muppet Christmas Carol, Muppet Treasure Island, Muppets From Space, The Muppets' Wizard of Oz and The Adventures of Elmo in Grouchland. Bagdasarian Productions films have also aired on Disney Channel, although most of them are not presently owned by Disney, including The Chipmunk Adventure, Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein, and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet the Wolfman and Spirited Away.

Between 1986 and 1998, films made up most Disney Channel's evening and overnight schedule. It now only airs films usually each afternoon and in primetime Monday through Thursday nights. Many of the channel's earliest original movies (particularly those made from 1997 to 2002) have seldom been aired by Disney Channel in recent years, except for some holiday-themed movies; in January 2009, the channel began airing these older original movies on Friday and Saturday nights at 3 a.m. ET/PT; since June 2010, movies also air on Sundays in late night and since July 2010, the movies start at 2:30 a.m. ET/PT and some of the late-night weekend movies are aired without promo breaks. A Disney Channel Original Movie used to air twice in a row on the night of its premiere; this tradition ended with the January 2006 premiere of High School Musical. Encore presentations of Disney Channel Original Movies however, still sometimes air on the channel in prime time on the Saturday and Sunday after its original Friday night debut (Camp Rock, Dadnapped, Starstruck, and Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars are the only exceptions to this rule). Camp Rock and Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior are currently the only DCOMs to air on a non-Disney Channel branded network domestically as they have both aired on sister channel ABC Family, and Camp Rock has also aired on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney. On September 13, 2010, Disney Channel began airing theatrically-released films in a 4:3 letterbox format on the channel's primary SD feed, broadcasting them in a similar manner to how they are aired on the HD feed.

Disney Channel occasionally airs "special edition" airings of its high-profile original movie premieres: sing-along versions of The Cheetah Girls trilogy, High School Musical, High School Musical 2 and Camp Rock have aired in which lyrics are displayed on screen for viewers to sing with the songs in the films; the channel also airs "What's What" editions of its high-profile original movies using a format that mimics the former VH1 series Pop Up Video in which facts about the movie and its stars pop up on screen at various points during the film.

In part because of the network does not air commercials and advertises only network programming, films typically run short of their allotted time slot and interstitial programming airs to fill an entire two-hour slot, usually an episode of a Disney Channel original series for a film running about 90 to 100 minutes, an 11-minute-long episode of an original animated series for a film running 105 minutes, and any film longer than 105 minutes has the remaining time filled with a music video, promotions, and/or shorts such as Shaun the Sheep, As the Bell Rings or Brian O' Brian.


In the May 2010 Nielsen ratings, Disney Channel ranked #1 for the 63rd consecutive month in the Kids 6-11 demographic and for the 62nd straight month among Tweens 9-14. Disney Channel is ranked as the second most watched cable channel among total viewers during primetime, behind USA Network in first place with an average of 2.8 million people.

According to Nielsen Media Research, the month of May 2010 had finished as Disney Channel’s most-watched May sweeps period in Total Day ratings in the network's history ever, earning an average of 1.5 million viewers among Total Viewers, along with 525,000 viewers with a 2.1 rating share among Kids 6-11 and 459,000 viewers with a 1.9 rating share among Tweens 6-9; 9-15; among the first two demos, the channel posted its 14th consecutive month of year-to-year gains in both demos. First-run episodes of The Suite Life on Deck, Wizards of Waverly Place and Good Luck Charlie earned six of television’s top 10 telecasts that month in key child demographics, with Phineas and Ferb ranked as the #1 animated series on TV among Kids 6-11 and Tweens 9-14 for that month and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse ranked among TV’s top 10 programs for that month in Playhoue Disney's Kids 2-5 target demographic.[17]

Sister networks

Current networks

Disney XD

Main article: Disney XD (United States)

This television channel in the United States is aimed at males aged 7–14. The channel was launched on February 13, 2009, replacing predecessor Toon Disney, carrying action and comedy programming from Disney Channel and the former Jetix block from Toon Disney along with some first-run original programming and off-network syndicated shows. The channel carries the same name as an unrelated mini-site and media player on, which stood for Disney Xtreme Digital, though the "XD" in the channel's name is said to not have an actual meaning.

Future networks

Disney Junior

Main article: Disney Junior

On May 26, 2010 Disney-ABC Television Group announced the launch of a new 24-hour preschool-targeted digital cable and satellite channel called Disney Junior, which is set to premiere in early 2011; the commercial-free channel will compete with other preschooler-skewing cable channels such as Nick Jr. and PBS Kids Sprout.[16] The channel will feature programs from Disney Channel's existing library of preschool programs and movies from the Walt Disney Pictures film library. Disney Junior's launch will mean that SOAPnet (which is also owned by Disney-ABC Television Group) will be discontinued as a result, citing the continued fading popularity of soap operas on broadcast networks and the growth of video on demand and digital video recorders negating the need for a linear channel devoted to the genre. The current Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel, as well as the 22 existing cable channels and program blocks bearing the Playhouse Disney name outside the United States will also be rebranded under the Disney Junior name starting in February 2011.[18]

Former networks

Toon Disney

Main article: Toon Disney

This television channel, that launched on April 18, 1998, was aimed at children ages 6–12. The channel carried a format of reruns of Walt Disney Television Animation and Disney Channel-produced animated programming, along with some third-party programming, animated films and original programming. In 2002, the channel debuted a nighttime program block aimed at children ages 7–14 called Jetix, which featured action-oriented animated and live-action series. During Toon Disney's first year on the air, Disney Channel ran a sampler block of Toon Disney programming on Sunday nights for interested subscribers. The network ceased operations and was relaunched as the preteen male-oriented Disney XD, featuring a broader array of programming, on February 13, 2009.

Other services


Main article: Disney Channel (international)


Disney Channel has received some criticism for their current programming direction. Experts criticize the company for programming that has pulled away from the characters that the network's parent company, The Walt Disney Company was based on: Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck and Goofy and thus more "traditionalist" fans of the network have gone so far to say that the network is no longer really a Disney Channel. Other critics disapprove of the marketing strategy made by Anne Sweeney, the President of ABC-Disney Television Group,[19] which makes the programs on Disney Channel geared mainly toward pre-teen girls and teenage girls.[20] Sweeney had also said that the main goal of the programming on Disney Channel was not to entertain, but to make money, officially stating that Disney Channel would be "the major profit driver for the (Walt Disney) Company."[21]

Network slogans

See also


This article has an unclear citation style. The references used may be made clearer with a different or consistent style of citation and footnoting. (August 2010) (Learn how and when to remove this message)
  1. ^ Flower 1991, p. 87.
  2. ^ Grover 1991, p. 15.
  3. ^ a b c Grover 1991, p. 147.
  4. ^ a b Hevesi, Dennis (December 22, 2007). "Alan Wagner, 76, First President of the Disney Channel, Is Dead". The New York Times. The New York Times Company. Retrieved October 26, 2009.
  5. ^ a b c Scott, Vernon (April 19, 1983). "Disney invades cable TV". TimesDaily. Vol. 114, no. 109. United Press International (UPI). p. 8. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  6. ^ Fanning, Win (April 5, 1983). "Mickey to star on Disney Channel". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Vol. 56, no. 212. p. 31. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  7. ^ Grover 1991, p. 148.
  8. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine April 1984
  9. ^ The Disney Channel Magazine December 1986
  10. ^ Bryant, J. Alison (November 7, 2006 (2006-11-07)). The Children's Television Community. Lawrence Erlbaum. p. 149. ISBN 0-805-84996-3. ((cite book)): |access-date= requires |url= (help); Check date values in: |date= (help)
  11. ^ a b Greenfeld, Karl Taro (May 2008). "How Mickey Got His Groove Back". Condé Nast Portfolio. Condé Nast Publications: 126–131, 150. Retrieved October 31, 2010.
  12. ^ "Disney Channel/ Highlights For 2008". Retrieved 2009-01-19.
  13. ^ Mickey Mouse & Have a Laugh Website
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  16. ^ a b PreSchool Programs Replace SOAPnet, New York Times, May 27, 2010
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  18. ^ SOAPnet Will Go Dark to Make Way for Disney Junior, Entertainment Weekly, May 26, 2010
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