Radio Disney dropping airwaves for digital distribution

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When Disney bought ABC/Capital Cities not only did they get ESPN, a bunch of local TV stations, future CEO Bob Iger, but the deal also included a bunch of radio stations. Over time that network morphed into the Radio Disney network.

At times Radio Disney was a big focus of Disney’s strategy to reach kids. The theme parks built studios for DJs to broadcast live from. Many of the promotions were focused on synergy between current Disney channel shows or upcoming Disney movies. There were ground teams in the major cities holding lots of events and a stream of music that entertained the kids, but could also be enjoyed by the adults.

Remember “The Hamster Dance?” That song wouldn’t have had near the popularity if it hadn’t been for Radio Disney.

Fun fact, the main theme of that song is just the theme from Disney’s Robin Hood sped up. If you think you can stand it. Here’s a ten-hour loop of “The Hamster Dance”

Well, all that is over. Disney is planning to sell off stations in all but one market – Los Angeles. From there it will generate a national programming feed for digital distribution.

According to a station from Radio Disney, “Radio Disney will increase its investment in both digital distribution platforms and music-centric programming to optimize the network for long-term growth and to better reflect the habits of its listeners, a national audience of kids and families.”

Sadly, about 200 employees are expected to be laid off as a result of the sale. All 23 stations are expected to be sold by the end of September 2014.

Currently, Radio Disney is available on satellite and digital channels such as Sirius/XM, Aha Radio and others. You can also download the WATCH Disney app on both Android and iOs devices.

The story broke yesterday on Broadcasting Cable. If you look at the numbers in that story, Radio Disney is still quite popular. Even the Radio Disney Music Awards was a great draw for The Disney Channel. However, the trend is a move toward digital and satellite.

How do you prefer to get your Radio Disney? Do you have kids in your house who are regular listeners?

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One Response to Radio Disney dropping airwaves for digital distribution

  1. Tommy2 says:

    The numbers in the Broacasting & Cable article don’t show any popularity. The RDMA’s beat other music award shows including the MTV Video Music Awards, Billboard Music Awards among kids 2-11, kids 6-11 and tweens 9-14. It topped the Grammys with kids and tied with tweens.

    They’re comparing the RDMA’s to shows that have no interest at all in 2-11 year olds and then saying look we beat them. That’s like The Lawrence Welk Show saying we beat all of those awards shows with adults 70 years and older. Not to mention, in advertising the demos 2-11 are the least sought after (meaning they spend the least amount of their advertising budget there).

    FYI: The Hampsterdance gained it’s popularity online, not via Radio Disney. Note, in 2005, CNET named the Hampster Dance the #1 web fad. (Check wikipedia for more). Radio Disney did popularize the song, but that was after it went viral (before that term existed).

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