Disney Junior to replace SOAPNet in Cable Lineup

As we attempt to raise our Disney Son, who turns 7 this summer, we continue to experience the challenge of finding television shows that are appropriate for a child his age (or younger). You would think that between Disney XD and the Disney Channel there would always be something, but often the options are either unacceptable or not aimed at his demographic.

Now that Disney has announced a new cable channel aimed squarely at pre-school aged kids, future generations won’t have that same issue. Disney Junior will start as a website and that new name of Playschool Disney and then will morph into a full cable channel when it replaces SOAPnet.

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 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,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.

But why get rid of SOAPnet? “The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly,” said Sweeney. “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.”

I guess that means we can write off the return of ABC Soap Opera days at DHS.

I’m not sure Disney Junior is a stronger brand than Playhouse Disney. But it does convey that the channel will be more than just play, which I guess is a step in the right direction. I wonder if the yearly Playhouse Disney Live tours will be rebranded too.

For more details check out the press release below the jump;

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.

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9 Responses to Disney Junior to replace SOAPNet in Cable Lineup

  1. oh amanda says:

    I’m so glad they are doing this but I’m kinda sad there isn’t going to be “playhouse disney” b/c I think that name is so much more fun than a totally over used “junior” (can you say Nick Jr?!)

  2. I hope you're not a fan of SOAPnet because Disney's changing it to a pre-school focused channel – http://bit.ly/9jRT80

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  5. disney_logo says:

    Love the disney junior logo have never seen it before.

  6. Dylan says:

    Sounds great for my two year old Disney fan. By the way, because he wears his mouse ears a lot for play– he comically insists on referring to Mickey and Minnie as “Hat” and “Mommie Hat”. ;)

    Personally I love the simple, but clever, logo and name.

  7. Well, I agree w/Amanda. Sounds like Disney is copying Nick. Don’t agree w/that move. I loved the named Playhouse Disney too!

    Plus, I am a fan of Soapnet and was so thrilled when we FINALLY got it! It allows me to watch my soap when I miss it during the day.

    Ugh….I can’t believe they are phasing soaps out again…

  8. frank says:

    I am so mad at disney channel for taking away my soaps for me my general hospital and one life to live. I am going to try never again to whatch disney channel ever aain and i amgoing to make sure m sister that is 5 never ever whatches this stupid channel you guys are making. I always use soap.net for the latest comings and goings whats happening and the latest reveiws. i am irrated that you are getting rid of the soap channel because i use that channel for when theres a news report and i miss some of the show i wahtch it on soap net or if i miss it a day or the bills not paid or it doesn’t record i always whatch it or record it on soap net. I am pissed off at you guys.

  9. Mad and Happy at the same time says:

    I LOVE the idea of this.
    I HATE the name of this.
    What in the WORLD?!
    Disney Junior?
    I’ve lived with the Playhouse in my life since 97, and my niece can say Playhouse Disney. And it’s just going away.

    R.I.P Playhouse.

Comments are closed.