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.
What if Spider-man joined the Fantastic Four? That was the topic of the very first ‘What If’ comic title from Marvel way back in 1977. Although there wasn’t ever likely to be a ‘What if Marvel joined the Disney family?’ title, we’re all beginning to catch our first glimpses of the new relationship, from Disney selling Marvel merchandise throughout its theme parks to awkwardly and backhandedly promoting the current slate of Marvel Studios films as they continue to be distributed by Paramount.
Today, however, we have learned of a new chapter in the ‘What If’ universe — ABC daytime dramas (or Soaps). Perhaps borrowing from their new cousins, ABC Daytime has decided to produce a series of ten episodes pondering the question ‘what if character W from show X meets character Y from show Z.’
Directed by Frank Valentini, the executive producer of One Life to Live, the characters who will interact are:
- “All My Children’s” Erica Kane (Susan Lucci) and “General Hospital’s” Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard)
- “General Hospital’s” Luke Spencer (Anthony Geary) and “One Life to Live’s” Viki Banks (Erika Slezak)
- “All My Children’s” Ryan Lavery (Cameron Mathison) and “General Hospital’s” Carly Jacks (Laura Wright)
- “All My Children’s” Greenlee Smythe (Rebecca Budig) and “General Hospital’s” Jason Morgan (Steve Burton)
- “One Life to Live’s” John McBain (Michael Easton) and “General Hospital’s” Sam McCall (Kelly Monaco)
- “One Life to Live’s” Todd Manning (Trevor St. John) and “General Hospital’s” Damian Spinelli (Bradford Anderson)
- “All My Children’s” Angie and Jesse Hubbard (Debbi Morgan and Darnell Williams) and “One Life to Live’s” Starr Manning (Kristen Alderson)
- “One Life to Live’s” Blair Cramer (Kassie DePaiva) and “All My Children’s” Tad Martin (Michael E. Knight)
- “One Life to Live’s” Tess (Bree Williamson) and “General Hospital’s” Dante Falconeri (Dominic Zamprogna)
- “General Hospital’s” Maxie Jones (Kirsten Storms) and “One Life to Live’s” Rex Balsom (John- Paul Lavoisier)
ABC Daytime and SOAPnet have signed on as the presenting sponsor of the 2009 Stagecoach Country Music Festival powered by Toyota. The event, held at the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California, will be a part of ABC Daytime and SOAPnet’s Soap Nation Tour, an ongoing initiative to bring the stars to more fans in more cities more often. As part of the sponsorship, actors from all three soaps, “All My Children” (AMC), “One Life To Live” (OLTL) and “General Hospital” (GH), will be integrated into the event, introducing musical acts and interacting with fans on the Mane Stage. Additionally, ABC and SOAPnet will hold autograph sessions and run giveaways from a branded RV and tent onsite. Talent confirmed to attend (subject to change) include Bobbie Eakes and Aiden Turner from “All My Children,” Bree Williamson from “One Life To Live,” and Brandon Barash, Steve Burton, Rebecca Herbst, Kirsten Storms, Jason Thompson and Laura Wright from “General Hospital.” Go to www.soapnet.com for additional details.