| Disney Channel's Current logo|
(in use since May 7, 2010)
|Launched||April 18, 1983|
|Network||Disney/ABC Television Group|
|Owned by||The Walt Disney Company|
|Picture format|| 480i (SD)|
|Headquarters||Burbank, California, United States|
|Sister channel(s)|| Toon Disney|
The channel specializes in television programming for children through original children's television series and movies, as well as third-party programming. It is marketed mostly toward young children, with the exception of their weekend prime-time block that is aimed at pre-teens and teenagers ages 9–14, and the Disney Junior programming block aimed towards children ages 2–5. 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.
1977–1983: Conception and launch
In early 1977, Jim Jimirro of Walt Disney Productions brought forth the idea of a cable television network with material from the studio. Since the company was focusing on the Epcot Center, Disney chairman Card Walker turned down the proposal. Disney tried again in 1982, planning a partnership with the satellite unit of Group W, though the deal never came to fruition. In late 1982, the Disney Channel was formed under the leadership of its first president, Alan Wagner. Disney later invested US$11 million on two transponders of Galaxy 1, a Hughes Communications satellite, and spent US$20 ;million on programming.
In 1983, Walt Disney Productions announced its launch of the family-oriented cable channel. The Disney Channel launched nationally on April 18, 1983 at 7am ET with the Disney Channel-produced series Good Morning, Mickey! The channel's programming during its run as a premium channel, carrying through to its transition to a basic cable channel, targeted children and teenagers during the daytime, families during primetime and adults at night. At the time of its launch, Disney Channel was a premium channel that aired for 16 hours a day, from 7 a.m.-11 p.m. ET/PT (6 a.m.-10 p.m. CT, 8 a.m.-midnight MT). During its first full year, the channel was available to more than 532,000 subscribers in the U.S. 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).
1983–1997: Early years
In the channel's first years, shows that aired during its broadcast day 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. As filler material, the channel also featured D-TV, a series of MTV-style music videos which showed popular music interwoven with classic Disney animation.
Subscribers initially received a monthly program guide/magazine, though it was phased out by the time the channel began targeting itself as a commercial-free basic channel. Disney Channel received a special citation from the United States president Ronald Reagan in 1984. As a premium channel, The 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. On December 1, 1986, Disney Channel began broadcasting on a 24-hour-a-day schedule. Outside of daytime programs for children, the network also aired movies and original specials (largely concert specials), largely during the nighttime hours.
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. It became a hit for the channel, spawning many future stars in both music and acting during its 9-year run, 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, nicknamed 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 that proved Disney's basic 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 1989, The Disney Channel had a total of about five million pay subscribers nationwide. In 1991, eight cable providers volunteered to move The Disney Channel to their expanded basic cable packages, instead of offering it as a premium channel; Jones Intercable was the first provider to carry the channel as a basic network, initially carried on the Basic Plus tier on its Fort Myers and Broward County, Florida systems as a test run. Soon after, other cable systems began to transition the channel to their basic tiers, either as an experiment or full-time. Even as larger multiple system operators such as Cox Communications and Marcus Cable began to offer The Disney Channel on their basic tiers, Walt Disney Company executives continued to deny any plans to convert the channel to an ad-supported basic service, referring to the switches to basic on some systems as part of a five-year "hybrid" strategy; allowing providers to offer it as either a pay service or a basic service.
Also in 1991, The Disney Channel experimented with multiplexing its service, rather than broadcast three channels of its service like HBO did that same year, The Disney Channel instead tested a two-channel multiplex service to two cable systems. By 1992, Nielsen Media Research estimated that a third of its subscriber base were adults without children in the home; and by 1995, The Disney Channel's subscriber base had expanded to 15 million cable homes, eight million of which received the channel through a premium subscription. In 1996, Anne Sweeney was appointed to oversee The Disney Channel, and the channel began offering a nightly primetime film.
1997–2002: Split into Zoog, Vault, and Playhouse Disney
In 1997, the channel continued its transition from a premium cable channel to being offered via expanded basic cable, transitioning fully to basic cable as late as 2004 in some markets. It was at this time that the channel started to increase its viewership. Around this time, the channel began to shift its target audience more toward kids, but continued to cater to families at night. 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).
On September 1, 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 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 August 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 looks were two-dimensional, though they were redesigned in 2001, with a more three-dimensional design and mature voices, but were phased out after less than a year. The original Disney Channel still airs between Playhouse Disney and Zoog Disney. 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); the reasons for the channel's decision not to include traditional advertising in its programming include the possible confusion to younger viewers as to the difference between its programming and advertisements, and to prevent increases in license fees for the channel to broadcast feature films (however while the channel does not air standard ads, Disney Channel does utilize underwriter sponsorship by companies such as Best Western and Mattel for its programs). 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.
In 1999, Disney Channel began notifying the remaining cable operators who still offered the network as a premium service that they must begin carrying it on their basic cable tier or cease to carry it altogether, saying it would not renew retransmission contracts with providers that would choose to carry the network as a pay service, this included Time Warner Cable and Comcast that were the last remaining major cable providers offering the channel as a premium service. By 2001, Disney Channel was available to approximately 70 million cable and satellite subscribers, largely consisting of those who already received the channel via a basic tier as well as what remained of the subscribers that paid an additional fee for the channel. By this time, the music videos and concert specials that the channel ran since the 1997 rebrand were dropped, citing the inability to receive a stake in the revenue from artists' CD sales and lack of exclusivity for the videos; soon after, the channel began to incorporate music videos from songs featured in Disney's feature films and performed by artists on Radio Disney and signed by Disney's in-house record companies Hollywood Records and Walt Disney Records.
2002–2007: Disney Channel relaunched
By 2002, Disney Channel was seen in 80 million cable homes nationwide. That September, Disney Channel was gradually remodeled once more. The "Zoog" brand name was phased out from on-air usage, though it continued under separate website until 2003, when it was merged with Disney Channel's main website. On September 16, 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; as a result of Vault Disney's discontinuance, for the first time in the channel's history, Disney Channel did not feature any programming targeted at adult audiences – with the only programming that intentionally targets the entire family being the channel's primetime feature films (as of June 2011, Disney Channel is the only one out of the four largest children's cable networks in the United States that does not target a dual audience: kids in the daytime, families and adults at night; Nickelodeon, The Hub and Cartoon Network each feature program blocks that target such a dual audience). 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 sitcoms and animated series. A month later, at 2:00 p.m. ET on October 7, 2002, Disney Channel introduced a new on-air appearance with a new logo designed by CA Square (using an outline of Mickey Mouse's head as its centerpiece) that was adopted by its international sister channels in May 2003, and unveiling a new graphics designed to fit the network's new look. It also revealed its new graphics designed to fit the network's new look. After these changes, Playhouse Disney was the only one of the three blocks introduced in 1997 to continue airing; however, it was rebranded as Disney Junior in 2011. Around the same time, Disney Channel partnered with corporate sister ABC to run the channel's programming on ABC's Saturday morning block. Moreover, Disney Channel started a bumper which is still used today. Every character must introduce themselves and most character will say which series or movies are they from. After that, they will say: "You're watching Disney Channel"(except for animated characters) and draw the Disney Channel logo, using a glow stick.
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." 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." 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 then-longest-running original series (Phineas and Ferb will beat it about 10 years later, in 2012, though.) as of the time 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, the channel saw the debut of the its first multiple-series crossover, That's So Suite Life of Hannah Montana (involving That's So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Hannah Montana).
2007–present: Disney Channel today
In 2007, Disney Channel limited the number of original movie and series premieres to four movies and two series premiering over the course of the calendar 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 (at one point six-hour) 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, the channel modified its on-air presentation. Its logo turned into a ribbon, swirling around the screen until forming the Disney Channel logo instead of bouncing around the screen. 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. The font was changed from Digital to Placard MT Bold. Instead of the Disney Channel logo popping up into a bumper and delivering a message, the ribbon swirled up, formed the logo, and another ribbon swirled out with the message. Also, when Disney Channel's on-air presentation changed that year, the female announcer was dropped entirely.
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. In September 2008, slightly modified versions of these graphics were introduced for high definition. The channel also moved its original series, mostly the live-action shows, from late afternoon to prime time 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. The Sunday block was added in January 2008. In July 2009, Disney Channel extended its Friday lineup to two hours in prime time from 8–10 p.m. ET, dropping the primetime movie. A double-movie feature which was added on Saturday nights, which was mostly dropped in March 2010 and fully dropped by early 2011.
Two series debuted in 2007, the That's So Raven spin-off 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 canceled), and the popular Wizards of Waverly Place, starring Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin. Phineas and Ferb, the first original animated series to broadcast in HD, and The Suite Life of Zack & Cody spin-off, The Suite Life on Deck, debuted in 2008, 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 And Another "Pilot" In The Middle Starring Lateef Bowser in the respective categories in kids ages 6–12 and teens ages 9–14 in 2008.
Disney Channel launched two new series in 2009: 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 October 2009, Disney Channel premiered a new short series, Have a Laugh!, which features 4 to 5-minute segments including re-dubbed versions of classic Disney cartoons. The first of which premiered on October 26, 2009: Lonesome Ghosts.
The new logo, released May 2010, is the Disney Channel logo encased in a rounded box (which looks like a smartphone application icon); the point was so that Disney could put the logo more towards the middle of the screen (like they did with the 2008 logo), but with the 2002 logo. It 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. The 2002 logo is still used sometimes in old promos for shows (shows that started before the new logo), and bumpers in between shows.
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. The final season of Hannah Montana premiered, branded as Hannah Montana Forever for the final season. Jonas returned as Jonas L.A., though it ended that October. That fall, the second animated series, Fish Hooks, and the buddy sitcom Shake It Up were introduced. Four original movies premiered: Starstruck, Den Brother, Camp Rock 2: The Final Jam, and Avalon High. 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) and 16 Wishes (produced in association with Family Channel).
In 2011, four popular original series are scheduled to end: Sonny with a Chance (later becoming So Random!), Hannah Montana, The Suite Life on Deck, and Wizards of Waverly Place. Sonny with a Chance was retooled due to Demi Lovato's announcement that she would not return to the series, in order to focus on her music career. Five series were announced to be added to the lineup in 2011: So Random!, A.N.T. Farm, PrankStars, Jessie, and Austin & Ally. Seven Disney Channel Original Movies were confirmed for 2011: The Suite Life Movie, Lemonade Mouth, Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure, Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension, Geek Charming, and Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas!. The Teletoon original movie, My Babysitter's a Vampire, premiered on June 10, 2011 with its spin-off series, also called My Babysitter's a Vampire, that premiered June 27, 2011. As of mid-2011, Disney Channel no longer has its "Disney Channel Original Series" vanity card tagged onto the end of its series when aired on television.
In January 2012, Wizards of Waverly Place ended its run on the channel, becoming Disney Channel's longest-running original series with 106 episodes (the record for the channel's longest-running series was formerly held by That's So Raven, which ran for 100 episodes). In May 2012 it was indicated that So Random!, a spin-off of Sonny with a Chance, had been canceled after only one season.
Since June 2012, Disney Channel now presents an on-screen mark at the beginning of certain programming on their schedule to refer that the program has audio description. Certain episodes of Gravity Falls, Austin and Ally, Good Luck Charlie, and Phineas and Ferb show this AD))) mark at the intro of the episode to notice the audio description track available SAP feed. Disney Junior airs the AD)) mark and the intended SAP track on newer episodes of Little Einsteins. ABC airs this mark of the bottom-left corner of the screen and the extra track starting with the season premiere of Modern Family and the series premiere of The Neighbors.
Also in June 2012, Disney announced that by 2015, it would no longer advertise or promote any food or beverage that does not meet strict nutritional guidelines, on any of its media properties aimed at children, which includes Disney Channel. Disney believes that it is the first media company to take such a stance on stopping the marketing of what they claim as "junk food" to children.
Disney announced on July 14, 2012 its first television collaboration between Disney Channel and Marvel Entertainment, which had been acquired by the company in 2009. Expected to come to air in 2013, the characters of Phineas & Ferb and Marvel Universe characters, including Spider-Man and The Avengers, would be paired in a crossover special called "Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel", which would use the plot device of a "inator" device of Dr. Doofenshmitz removing the powers of the superheroes, and the characters of Phineas & Ferb helping them get their powers back while fighting against Marvel villains.
See also: Disney Channel Original Series
Current programming on Disney Channel includes Phineas and Ferb, Fish Hooks, Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up, A.N.T. Farm, Jessie, Gravity Falls, and Austin & Ally. Reruns of ended Wizards of Waverly Place, along with occasional airings of Disney XD series Pair of Kings and Kickin' It. Unlike the majority of cable channels, all of Disney Channel's original scripted programs, including those on the former Playhouse Disney block, feature tag scenes during the closing credits. The channel also airs short-form programs known as "short shows", which air more commonly on the Disney Junior block. Music videos, mainly featuring Walt Disney Records and Hollywood Records artists as well as songs featured in newer Disney feature films are frequently aired, though the full 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.
Since 2003, Disney Channel typically imposes an unwritten "6-to-a-cast" rule as its original series generally have no more than six contract cast members, with So Weird being the last series before 2003 to have more than six cast members. However, Shake It Up is the first series to receive seven contract cast members in season two; 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 24 frames per second.
- 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 currently 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).
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 ;am ET/PT; since June 2010, movies also air on Sundays in late night and since July 2010, the movies start at 2:30 ;am 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, although theatrical movies shot with an aspect ratio of 2.35:1 or 2.40:1 are panned and scanned to fit an HDTV screen to eliminate screen burn-in on plasma displays.
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 the network does not air commercials and advertises only network programming, films typically run short of their allotted time slot 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, Have a Laugh! or Take Two with Phineas and Ferb. However, as of June 2012, they have done reruns of programs to be 2 shows at 25 minutes.
- Main article: Disney Junior
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 Disney Junior, which debuted on February 14, 2011. During the summer months, the block ends at 9 am ET/PT on weekdays. The only programming featuring classic Disney characters, as of 2012 is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior, and the Have a Laugh! short films on the network itself. Programming in this block includes Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Special Agent Oso, Imagination Movers, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction and My Friends Tigger & Pooh.
Disney Junior is the successor to Playhouse Disney, another preschool-targeted block which debuted in September 1997. Disney Junior became a channel on March 23, 2012, replacing SOAPnet. The Disney Junior channel will become a direct competitor to Nickelodeon's Nick Jr. channel and PBS and Comcast's PBS Kids Sprout.
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 A.N.T. Farm, Phineas & Ferb, Jessie and Fish Hooks, while Sunday nights feature Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up, and Austin & Ally. Programming on both night's schedules (since 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 pm ET/PT on Friday and Sunday evenings.
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.
Toonin' Saturdays is a Saturday morning animation block that debuted on June 17, 2011; the "Toonin' Saturdays" lineup primarily consists of double-episode airings of Disney Channel original animated series Fish Hooks, Gravity Falls and Phineas and Ferb. Occasionally, new first-run episodes of either series will be featured in the block, though new episodes may also sometimes air in their original Friday night time slots. Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil has also ran, but isn't on the lineup as much after August 2011. The logo itself hasn't been seen since January 2012.
- Disney Nighttime – From 1983 to 1997, Disney Channel, during the premium channel era featured programming aimed at adult audiences, during the nighttime hours under the banner name "Disney Nighttime"; unlike the nighttime content aired on the channel's then-competitor premium channels at the time of its launch, the "adult" programming featured on Disney Channel was devoid of sexual and violent content. Disney Nighttime featured older feature films (similar to those seen at the time on American Movie Classics, and eventually Turner Classic Movies, with both Disney and non-Disney titles mixed in) and the traditional premium channel fare of original concert specials from artists ranging from Rick Springfield to Elton John.
- Block Party – From October 2, 1995 to the summer of 1996, four animated series that previously aired on The Disney Afternoon (Darkwing Duck, TaleSpin, DuckTales, and Chip 'n Dale Rescue Rangers) were rerun on the Disney Channel as a two-hour programming block called "Block Party" which aired on weekdays in the late-afternoon/early-evening.
- Zoog Disney – Launched in August 1998, Zoog Disney was a program block that aired on weekend afternoons. The hosts for the block were "Zoogs", animated anthropomorphic characters resembling robots, but given human voices, with most of the Zoog characters acting like teenagers. The block tied television and the internet together, allowing viewer comments and scores from players of ZoogDisney.com's online games to be aired on the channel during regular programming in a ticker format (which the channel continued to use after the block was discontinued, and is used in a significantly decreased capacity as of May 2010). The Zoogs were given a more three-dimensional redesign and mature voices in 2001, but were phased out after less than a year. With the entire block phased out by September 2002. From September 2001 to August 2002, the entire Friday, Saturday and Sunday afternoon and primetime lineup was branded as "Zoog Weekendz".
- Vault Disney – Disney Nighttime was reworked into "Vault Disney" in September 1997, upon Disney Channel's first major rebrand. Originally a Sunday-only block, Vault Disney expanded to seven nights a week by 1999, and aired late nights from midnight to 6 ;am ET (except on Sunday nights from 1997 to 1999, when the block had a 9 ;pm ET start time on Sundays). The classic programming changed to feature only Disney-produced television series and specials such as Zorro, Spin and Marty, The Mickey Mouse Club and the Walt Disney anthology television series, along with older Disney television specials; older Disney feature films also were part of the lineup from 1997 to 2000, but aired in a reduced capacity. The block also featured The Ink and Paint Club, featuring classic Disney animated shorts, which became the only remaining program on the channel to feature these shorts by 1999, upon the removal of Quack Pack from the schedule.
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, Mostly Ghostly, and Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie, along with Halloween episodes of the network's Original Series. In April, Disney Channel airs a week of Halloween DCOMs.
The network's December schedule usually focuses on Christmas programming, with the title of the branding changing every year. Christmas films such as the The Christmas Visitor, The Ultimate Christmas Present, 'Twas the Night, Beethoven's Christmas Adventure, and Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas! have premiered in this month, along with Christmas episodes of the network's Original Series such as Phineas and Ferb Christmas Vacation!, A Phineas and Ferb Family Christmas, and two So Random! Christmas Specials (the original special aired on Sonny With a Chance)
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 disneychannel.com, 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.
Disney's Friends For Change Games
- Disney's Friends for Change Games - The Disney's Friends for Change Games are an Olympic-based televised event aired on Disney Channel and is part of The Walt Disney Company's Friends for Change initiative. It replaces the Disney Channel Games and premiered on June 24, 2011, and is an annual event on Disney Channel. The Games did not air in 2012 for unknown reasons.
In the May 2010 Nielsen ratings, Disney Channel ranked No.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 February 2011 had finished as Disney Channel’s most-watched February sweeps period in Total Day ratings in the network's history ever, earning an average of 1.7 million viewers among Total Viewers, along with 590,000 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 Shake It Up, 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 No.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 Playhouse Disney's Kids 2–5 target demographic.
- Main article: Disney XD
Disney XD is a digital cable and satellite television channel in the United States, which 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. Like its predecessor Toon Disney and unlike parent network Disney Channel, Disney XD is advertiser-supported. The channel carries the same name as an unrelated mini-site and media player on Disney.com, which stood for Disney Xtreme Digital, though the "XD" in the channel's name is said to not have an actual meaning.
- 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 premiered on March 23, 2012; the Disney Junior channel (which will be commercial-free, like parent network Disney Channel but unlike SOAPnet, which it is replacing, and Disney XD) will compete with other preschooler-skewing cable channels such as Nick Jr. and PBS Kids Sprout. 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 will take over the channel space currently held by Disney-ABC Television Group-owned SOAPnet (a channel airing soap operas), with the closure of SOAPnet citing the continued decrease in popularity of the soap opera genre on broadcast television and the growth of video on demand (including the online streaming availability for soap operas) and digital video recorders negating the need for a linear channel devoted to the format. The former Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel was rebranded as Disney Junior on February 14, 2011, and the 22 existing cable channels and program blocks bearing the Playhouse Disney name outside the United States have been in the process of rebranding under the Disney Junior name. Disney had previously announced plans for a preschool-targeted network in the U.S. in 2001, however the planned Playhouse Disney Channel did not come to fruition, though dedicated Playhouse Disney Channels did launch internationally.
- Main article: Toon Disney
This television channel, that launched on April 18, 1998, was aimed at children ages 6–12; the network's main competition were Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner's Cartoon Network and Boomerang, and Viacom/MTV Networks' Nicktoons. Unlike Disney Channel, Toon Disney was an advertiser-supported cable channel. 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.
- Disney Channel HD is a high definition simulcast feed, broadcasting a moderate amount of Disney Channel's programming in 720p HD (Disney/ABC Television Group's standard resolution format for its HD simulcast channels); it began broadcasting on March 19, 2008. Most of the channel's post-2009 program content is broadcast in high definition, along with feature films produced by Walt Disney Pictures and other film studios, Disney Channel original movies made after 2005 and select episodes, films and series produced before 2009. Many cable providers carry the HD simulcast feed, along with DirecTV, AT&T U-verse and Verizon FIOS. Dish Network currently does not carry the Disney/ABC Cable Networks' HD simulcast channels due to a retransmission consent dispute with the Walt Disney Company.
- Disney Channel On Demand is the channel's video-on-demand service, offering select episodes of the channel's original series and Disney Junior programming, along with select original movies and behind-the-scenes features to digital cable and IPTV providers.
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, which makes the programs on Disney Channel geared mainly toward pre-teen girls and teenage girls. Sweeney had also said that the main goal of the programming on Disney Channel was not solely to entertain, but to also make money, officially stating that Disney Channel would be "the major profit driver for the (Walt Disney) Company."
The channel has also pulled episodes (even once having to reshoot an episode) that featured subject matter either deemed inappropriate due to its humor, the timing of the episode's airing with real-life events or subject matter considered inappropriate for Disney Channel's target audience. In December 2008, the Hannah Montana episode "No Sugar, Sugar" (which was intended as the finale of the show's second season) was pulled before its originally scheduled broadcast date after complaints from parents who saw an on-demand version of the episode over misconceptions about Type I diabetes (which the Mitchel Musso character of Oliver Oken) is revealed to have been diagnosed with in the episode. Portions of the original episode were subsequently rewritten and re-filmed to become the season three episode "Uptight (Oliver's Alright)", which aired 10 months later in September 2009. In December 2011, Disney Channel has pulled an episode from its original series Shake It Up, titled "Party It Up". The network had also pulled an episode from its other original series So Random!, titled "Colbie Caillat". They both were pulled from the network's airing cycle due to eating disorder references.
From 1983 to 1997, Disney Channel's logo involves a Mickey Mouse head inside a TV screen. When the network split in 1997, a new logo was launched, with a 1930s Mickey Mouse inside a Mickey Mouse-shaped TV. The logo was slightly modified in 1999. In 2002, a new logo (designed by CA Square) was adopted internationally, which continued until the 2010. In 2010 the logo was altered to look better in HD Widescreen format, the original 2002 logo was incased inside a rounded box, and has been used ever since.
Disney Channel Video Games
Dance Dance Revolution Disney Channel Edition
- Main article: Dance Dance Revolution Disney Channel Edition
Dance Dance Revolution Disney Channel Edition is the first game based on the Disney Channel shows. Core gameplay remains mostly the same on Disney Channel Edition, until the songlist consists mostly of songs from Disney Channel programming, including songs from Hannah Montana, The Cheetah Girls, High School Musical, That's So Raven, Kim Possible and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody.
Disney Channel All Star Party
- Main article: Disney Channel All Star Party
Disney Channel All Star Party is a mascot treasure hunt party game that brings together several characters from the Disney Channel Multiverse in one epic roundup that plays very similarly to Nintendo's Mario Party video game series. Players can experience places from Disney Channel shows in a board game style. They can also play up to 30 minigames based on the Disney Channel shows. They can choose any of the Disney Channel character they like.
Disney Channel All Star House Party
- Main article: Disney Channel All Star House Party
Disney Channel All Star House Party is a party game which plays very similarly to Nintendo's WarioWare video game series. The game focuses on House Party Games, which are short games that last for about five seconds. The game is broken up into stages, each represented by a Disney Channel character and loosely connected by a story, with the House Party Games divided among the stages based on the Disney Channel shows.
- Everything You've Ever Imagined. And More. (April 18, 1983–September 1983)
- Family Entertainment You Can Trust. (September 1983 – 1985)
- For the Family. All of It. (1985–1986)
- Disney's Our Channel (1986–1988)
- America's Family Network (1988–1997)
- Our Stars, Your Place. Everyday. (1997–2002)
- It's On! (May 28–September 7, 2010; for summer programming campaign)
- The Best Place To Be. (September 7, 2010–June 2011)
- Sizzling Summer (June 2011–September 5, 2011 for summer programming campaign)
- It's Monstober! (October 1, 2011-October 31, for Halloween programming campaign)
- Made Just for You (2002–2009; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Believe in Yourself (January 1–February 2, 2010; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Express Yourself (2001–2007; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Dreams Come True (2009; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Believe in Yourself (January 1–February 2, 2010; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Follow Your Dreams (February 2–May 28, 2010; January 1, 2012 – present)
- Celebrate Family (January 1, 2012 – present)
- Disney Channel International
- ABC Cable Networks Group page
- Disney Channel's YouTube Page
- Disney Channel Wiki on Wikia
- Main article: Disney Channel/Gallery
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