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  • The Disney Channel
  • The Disney Channel(Launch-1997)

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Disney Channel (1983)

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  Summary  

Disney Channel is an American basic cable and satellite television network, owned by the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company. It is under the direction of Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney. The channel's headquarters is located on West Alameda Ave. in Burbank, California. Disney Channel International Networks, 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, Disney Junior, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama TV and Radio 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 primetime block that is aimed at pre-teens and teenagers ages 9–15, 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.

  Biography  

 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 7 am 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 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 , 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 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 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 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 . 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 . The channel also ceased producing drama and reality series, shifting focus to live-action sitcoms and animated series. A month later, Disney Channel introduced its new logo , which it will be adopted internationally in May 2003. 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" 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 series eventually hit 100 episodes, becoming the channel's longest-running original series and became the first to spawn a spin-off . 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.

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 , 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 also beat out its competition 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 ; the point was so that Disney could put the logo more towards the middle of the screen , 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 , 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 and 16 Wishes .

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 have also been 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.

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Whole or part of the information contained in this card come from the Wikipedia article "Disney Channel", licensed under CC-BY-SA full list of contributors here.