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Disney Channel is an American basic cable and satellite television network, owned by the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company, and headquartered in Burbank, California. It is under the direction of Disney-ABC Television Group President Anne Sweeney. Disney Channel International Networks, currently run by President Carolina Lightcap, is a group of more than 90 entertainment channels and/or channel feeds for children and families 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 9–14, 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.
Disney Channel: The Beginning (1983-1997)
In 1983, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would be launching a channel that would entertain families with the magic of Disney throughout the years. The Disney Channel was formed and pre-launched in late-1982 under the leadership of its first president Alan Wagner. The channel began broadcasting programming on April 18, 1983. At the time of its launch, Disney Channel was a premium channel and only aired 16 hours a day, from 7am to 11pm EST/PST (6am to 10pm CST, 8am to 12 midnight MST). The program that kicked off the channel's first day on the air was the Disney Channel-produced series Good Morning, Mickey! Other programs included Welcome to Pooh Corner and You and Me Kid. In April 1984, the channel extended its programming day to 18 hours a day by adding two hours to its late night schedule (7am to 1am EST/PST, 6am to 12 midnight CST, 8am to 2am MST).
The original late night schedule featured reruns of the classic The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet; more of them are included in Disney Channel Original Series. Disney Channel received a special citation from the United States president Ronald Reagan in 1984. On December 1, 1986, Disney Channel commenced full time broadcasting 24 hours everyday. During the early years, Disney Channel aired several foreign animated series and movies including Asterix, The Raccoons, and Paddington Bear. The Australian western, Five Mile Creek, was shown during this time period also.
During the 1980s, the channel debuted a few programs that later became part of the cultural lexicon of sorts. Early on, in 1986, the musically-oriented sitcom Kids Incorporated became a hit, 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. During its nine year run, the series spawned many future stars in both music and acting, 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 (Fergie of the Black Eyed Peas).
Disney also hit a cord with viewers in the early 90's with the popular after school block of cartoons called "Disney Afternoon". Making spin off shows of popular Disney movies, classic Disney characters and originals including Care Bears, the Gummi Bears, Duck Tales, Chip and Dale's Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Goof Troop, Bonkers, Gargoyles, Aladdin the Series, and Timon & Pumba the Series. The cassette tapes and CD's of the music from the original shows from the "Disney Afternoon" block are still treasured by viewers.
In early 1989, The Disney Channel revived one of the company's early TV staples with The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, which was an immediate hit, and proved the basic Disney 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 Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell and others. By 1995, Disney Channel was seen in more than 8 million homes across the United States.
Disney Channel: The Zoog/Vault Disney Era (1997-2002)
In 1997 (but in some markets starting around 1994), Disney Channel began transitioning from a premium cable channel to being offered via expanded basic cable, officially doing so by 2000. It was at this time that Disney Channel started to gain viewers. Prior to 1997, 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 that HBO, Cinemax, Showtime and Starz have.
In 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 also), and split the network into three programming blocks: Playhouse Disney, comprising of 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 1998 after Toon Disney 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 look was one-dimensional, however, the Zoogs were redesigned in 2001, with a more three-dimensional design and mature voices, but were phased out after less than a year. 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 advertising commercials, but promos for network programming).
Disney Channel's original programming during this period began to skyrocket. First, with Flash Forward in 1997 and then continuing with shows like The Famous Jett Jackson, So Weird, Lizzie McGuire, Even Stevens and Kim Possible, among others.
Disney Channel: The Relaunched Era (2002-2007)
In September 2002, Disney Channel was gradually remodeled once more. First, the "Zoog" brand name was phased out from on-air usage; the "Zoog" name continued under a separate website until 2003, when it was merged with Disney Channel's main website. Then on September 9, 2002, the vintage material aired under the Vault Disney banner 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, primetime movies were also cut to one a night (from two). The channel also ceased producing drama and reality series, shifting focus to live-action comedies and animated series, and Disney Channel usually premieres about two or three new original series a year (typically two animated series and one live-action series). The current logo was implemented a month later. As a result of these changes, of the three blocks introduced in 1997, only Playhouse Disney continues to this day.
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.
While Disney Channel's intended target audience are preschoolers, pre-teens and young adolescents, the channel has gained popularity and also has viewers outside the main target audience and has even made teen idols out of some of the channel's stars. The channel has become well known in recent years for its Disney Channel Original Series, and because of them, Disney Channel is one of the most-watched cable channels in the United States, with some series averaging around four to six million viewers (which is considered impressive for cable television).
In 2003 Disney Channel released its first ever musical movie on Disney Channel entitled The Cheetah Girls. It received 84 million viewers worldwide. Later in Disney Channel years spin-offs of the Cheetah Girls were created such as High School Musical, and 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 (eventually hitting 100 episodes) and to be the first to spawn a spin-off (Cory in the House).
Disney Channel: The Current Era (2007-present)
In 2007, Disney Channel remodeled its looks. The logo, instead of bouncing around the screen, turned into a ribbon and swirled around the screen until forming the logo. The background turned into an astronomy sphere, as opposed to abstract objects bouncing and moving in the screen. Also, the font was updated from Digital to Pilsen Plakat Bold. Bumpers were updated as well. Instead of the logo popping up and delivering a message, the ribbon swirled up, formed the logo, and another ribbon swirled out with the message. In addition, the female announcer was dropped.
In 2007, Disney Channel cut down on the number of original movie and series premieres over the course of the calendar year, limiting to four DCOM (Disney Channel Original Movie) and two new DCOS (Disney Channel Original Series). The most successful DCOM was High School Musical 2 with 17.2 million viewers. The channel abandoned its uniform schedules for weekday and weekend afternoons (with the exception of the 7-8PM hour), to run a five-hour (later six-hour, now back to five-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. As part of the change, promo cards and bumpers were changed to an abstract atmosphere with ribbon theming and themed to the programs.
Promos for the next program now only displayed the program airing next and were moved from immediately after the conclusion of a program to near the end of the last promo break, while a ribbon banner now appears on the bottom of the screen during programming (those airing from 11AM-8PM/ET and airing immediately following the end of each promo break) telling viewers the current program and the two programs airing afterwards. Slightly modified versions of these graphics fit for high definition were introduced in September 2008. The channel also moved its original series (mostly the live-action series) to primetime on weekends with new episodes airing in those timeslots, after having aired new episodes of its series on Fridays between 6-8PM/ET for the previous few years. The series began airing from 8-9PM/ET on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays (The Friday 8-9PM block will be preempted if a Disney Channel Original Movie is scheduled to premiere on that night; the Saturday 8-9PM block has aired on a periodic basis since the change; and the Sunday 8-9PM block was added in January 2008). In July 2009, Disney Channel extended its Friday lineup to two hours in primetime from 8-10PM/ET, dropping the primetime 9PM movie and a double movie feature was added on Saturday nights.
2007 saw the debut of two new original series, the That's So Raven spinoff 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 cancelled), and the popular Wizards of Waverly Place, starring Selena Gomez, David Henrie and Jake T. Austin. 2008 is recognized for its new series such as Phineas and Ferb, Brian O'Brian, and The Suite Life on Deck, the spin-off to The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, plus new Disney Channel Original Movies such as Camp Rock , Minutemen and The Cheetah Girls: One World. The Suite Life on Deck was the number one series in the respective categories in kids ages 6–12 and tweens ages 9–14 in 2008.
In 2009, Disney Channel launched two new series: Sonny with a Chance (the first original series shot in high definition) 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 had the widest range of Disney Channel Stars in the networks history. Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie also became the highest-rated cable program of that year (not including sporting events) with 11.4 million viewers, becoming the second highest-rated DCOM 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 late October 2009, Disney Channel premiered a new short series called: "have a laugh!" These 4 to 5 minute segments would include re-dubbed versions of classic Disney Cartoons. The first of which premiered on October 26, 2009: Lonesome Ghosts. In 2010, Good Luck Charlie debuted as Disney Channel's first original sitcom targeted at family audiences, while Fish Hooks and Shake It Up also made their premieres. That year also saw the premiere ofCamp Rock 2: The Final Jam among the four original movies premiering that year, along with two made-for-TV movies that were co-produced with Canadian specialty channels (Harriet the Spy: Blog Wars, in conjunction with Movie Central and The Movie Network; and 16 Wishes, with Family Channel). On November 19, 2010, Disney Channel began offering an alternate Spanish-language audio feed (carried either as a separate second audio program track or sold by cable and satellite providers in the form of a separate channel that is part of a Spanish-language programming package). Hannah Montana and The Suite Life on Deck both ended in 2011; Sonny with a Chance, meanwhile, was retooled as So Random! – focusing on the show within the show – after Demi Lovato decided not to return to the series to focus on her music career, following her treatment for bulimia and bipolar disorder (the So Random! spin-off series was canceled after one season in May 2012). Four other series (A.N.T. Farm, PrankStars, Jessie andAustin & Ally) also debuted that year, along with six made for-TV movies (including The Suite Life Movie, Lemonade Mouth and Phineas and Ferb The Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension).
2012 saw Disney Channel end Nickelodeon's 17-year run as the highest-rated cable channel in the United States, with its first ever win in total day cable network viewership as measured by ACNielsen. In January of that year, Wizards of Waverly Place ended its run as Disney Channel's longest-running original series with 106 episodes (beating the 100 episode record previously held by That's So Raven). That June, The Walt Disney Company announced that it would stop advertising or promoting food or beverage products that do not meet strict nutritional guidelines on Disney Channel or its other media properties aimed at children by 2015, purportedly becoming the first media company to take such a stance on stopping the marketing of junk food products to kids.
On July 1, 2012, Disney Channel began providing Descriptive Video Service audio as part of the 21st Century Communications and Video Accessibility Act of 2010 that required stations in the 25 largest media markets aligned with the major broadcast networks as well as the five highest-rated cable and satellite channels (including Disney Channel) to offer audio descriptions for the blind.
On July 14, 2012, Disney Channel announced its first television collaboration with Marvel Entertainment (which was acquired by The Walt Disney Company in 2009), in the form of a crossover special set to air in 2013 called Phineas & Ferb: Mission Marvel featuring characters from Phineas & Ferb and the Marvel Universe. In January 2013, Disney launched the Disney Shows channel on YouTube, featuring free episodes of Disney Channel and Disney XD series past and present, as well as original shorts seen on both channels. Disney Channel has began a block on March 17, 2013 called "Replay Disney featuring episodes of Kim Possible, Lizzie McGuire ,and Even Stevens on Wednesday nights.
Main articles: List of programs broadcast by Disney Channel and List of Disney Channel seriesDisney Channel's schedule currently consists largely of original series aimed at pre-teens and young teenagers (including animated series such as Phineas and Ferb and Gravity Falls, to live-action series such as Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up, Jessie and Austin & Ally) and Disney Junior series. The channel also airs repeats of former Disney Channel original series (such as The Suite Life on Deck andWizards of Waverly Place), occasional reruns of Disney XD original series (such as Kickin' It, Lab Rats and Kick Buttowski: Suburban Daredevil), original made-for-TV movies, feature films, short-form programs known as "short shows" (which air more commonly on the Disney Junior block) and music videos from artists signed to sister companies Hollywood Records and Walt Disney Records as well as songs featured in recent and upcoming Disney feature film releases (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 operates as an essentially commercial-free channel, opting not to feature traditional commercial advertising during its in-show breaks due to concerns that younger viewers may be unable to separate the difference between programs and advertisements, and in order to pay a lower license fee rate to broadcast feature films distributed by major movie studios than ad-supported channels would pay – in lieu of running commercials, Disney Channel maintains underwriter sponsorships with major companies such as Best Western and Mattel.
Atypical of most U.S. cable channels, since 2006, Disney Channel's scripted programs (including shows featured on the Disney Junior block) feature additional scenes played over the closing credits. It also has an unwritten requirement that its original live-action series no more than six regular cast members (So Weird was the last series prior to 2003 to have more than six series regulars within its cast, onlyShake It Up has featured more than that with its second season having seven cast members on contract with the show). The channel's series tend to have smaller writing staffs compared to scripted series seen on other broadcast and cable networks (usually featuring around 4 and 8 credited staff writers, instead of the 8 to 11 writers commonly found on most scripted shows). Its live-action multi-camera series also commonly utilize a simulated film look (the FilmLook processing for such shows debuting between 2003 and 2008; the HD-compatible 'filmizing' technique for all newer and returning original series produced after 2009, which reduce the video frame rate to 24 frames per second). During the 1980s and 1990s, Disney Channel ran classic Disney animated shorts released between the 1930s and 1960s, which were removed from the lineup in 2000; since 2009, repackaged versions of these shorts are seen as part of the short series ReMicks and have a laugh!.
Main article: List of Disney Channel Original Movies
Disney Channel regularly broadcasts a movie most nights during the week and occasionally airs films during the daytime hours, but these may not necessarily be a theatrically released film. The channel produces original made-for-cable movies called Disney Channel Original Movies (or DCOMs), which are frequently broadcast during prime time hours; the DCOM slate began with the 1997 premiere of Northern Lights. After that point, the number of DCOMs that debuted each year began to increase – from two in 1997 to a high of twelve in 2000, when the network premiered a new original movie each month during that year, before decreasing the current rate of roughly four to six premieres each year. Disney Channel previously ran double airings of its original movies on the night of its premiere (until the January 2006 premiere of High School Musical), though encore presentations of said films occasionally still air on the Saturday or Sunday of the initial debut weekend with few exceptions (Camp Rock was the first film not to be encored in this manner). "Special edition" airings of its higher-profile original movie premieres also air, including sing-along versions of music-based films (featuring lyrics displayed on-screen for viewers to sing along with the film's songs) and "What's What" editions (styled similarly to Pop-Up Video, featuring on-screen pop up facts about the movie and its stars).
High School Musical 2 is currently the most successful DCOM in terms of popularity and accolades, setting a basic cable record for the single most-viewed television program, as its August 2007 debut was watched by 17.2 million (counting sports, this record stood until a December 3, 2007 New England Patriots-Baltimore Ravens game telecast on corporate sibling ESPN's Monday Night Football was watched by 17.5 million viewers). The Cheetah Girls films were also notably successful in terms of merchandise, and sales for its concert tour and soundtrack albums. The first film was the first TV movie musical in Disney Channel history, and had a worldwide audience of over 84 million viewers. The second movie was the most successful of the series, bringing in 8.1 million viewers in the U.S. An 86-date concert tour featuring the group was ranked as one of the top 10 concert tours of 2006; the tour broke a record at the Houston Rodeo that was set by Elvis Presley in 1973, selling out with 73,500 tickets sold in three minutes.
In addition to its made-for-cable films, Disney Channel has rights to theatrically released feature films, with some film rights shared with sister network ABC Family. The channel also has rights to films released by film studios owned by companies other than The Walt Disney Company: including Warner Bros. Entertainment, Universal Pictures, The Weinstein Company, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Lions Gate Entertainment, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures. Some films released by Bagdasarian Productions (such as The Chipmunk Adventure and Alvin and the Chipmunks Meet Frankenstein) have also aired on Disney Channel, although most of them are not presently owned by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.
Films made up roughly half of Disney Channel's daily schedule between 1986 and 1998, the number of movies broadcast on the channel has steadily eroded since then, to the point that films now only air during the primetime hours on Monday through Thursdays (though not always during those nights) and the overnight hours on weekends. Except for some holiday-themed movies, many Disney Channel Original Movies made from 1997 to 2005 have seldom aired on the channel in recent years; these older original movies began airing again in January 2009, as part of a late night block on Fridays and Saturdays at 3 a.m. ET/PT (a Sunday block was later added in June 2010, with these movies moving to 2:30 a.m. ET/PT and sometimes airing uninterrupted one month later). Cadet Kelly, Camp Rock andWendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior are currently the only Disney Channel Original Movies to have aired on a network outside of the Disney Channel brand domestically (the latter two have aired on sister channel ABC Family, while Cadet Kelly and Camp Rock have also been broadcast on ABC as part of The Wonderful World of Disney).
On September 13, 2010, Disney Channel began airing theatrical film releases in a 4:3 letterbox format on the channel's primary standard definition feed, broadcasting them in the widescreen-style format as 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 high-definition sets to eliminate screen burn-in on plasma displays. Partly due to the network advertising mainly its own programs in lieu of traditional advertising, films featured on Disney Channel often run short of their allotted time slot with interstitial programming airing to pad out the remainer of the time period (usually an episode of an original series if a film runs approximately 90 to 100 minutes, an 11-minute-long episode of an original animated series for films running 105 minutes or a mix of music videos, network promotions and short segments for films running longer than 105 minutes).
- Disney Junior – Disney Channel currently programs shows targeted at preschool-age children on Monday through Fridays from 6 a.m.–2 p.m. (6-9 a.m. during the summer months) and weekends from 6–9 a.m. ET/PT, called Disney Junior, which debuted on February 14, 2011. As of 2010, the only programming featuring classic Disney characters is Mickey Mouse Clubhouse on Disney Junior, and theHave a Laugh! short films on the network itself. Programs currently seen in this block include Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Special Agent Oso, Imagination Movers, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins,Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jungle Junction, 3rd and Bird, Babar and the Adventures of Badou, Doc McStuffins, Miles from Tomorrowland. Disney Junior is the successor to Playhouse Disney, another preschool-targeted block which debuted in September 1997. Disney Junior became its own basic cable and satellite channel on March 23, 2012 as a direct competitor to Nick Jr., qubo and PBS Kids Sprout, replacing Soapnet on some cable and satellite providers.
- 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", with first-run episodes premiering on Friday and/or Sunday evenings. Friday nights feature a combination of either A.N.T. Farm, Phineas & Ferb, Jessie, Gravity Falls and Fish Hooks, while Sunday nights feature Good Luck Charlie, Shake It Up, Dog with a Blog and Austin & Ally. Since October 2010, programming on both night's schedules has been somewhat fluid as while all series have a permanent place on the Friday and Sunday primetime schedules, episode premieres of all Disney Channel original series are subject to being rotated on and off the schedule depending on the schedule for that given week; depending on the night, these episode premieres usually air Fridays from 8–9:30 (or 10) p.m. and Sundays from 7:30–9 (or 9:30) p.m. ET/PT. Saturday nights feature repeats of recent episodes of the channel's original series or an occasional film telecast (the channel made two previous attempts at launching a Saturday night block of first-run programs to compete against Nickelodeon's higher-rated lineup on that night, first from 2007 to 2008 and again briefly during the spring of 2009). Encores of the respective night's programs typically air between 11 p.m. and 2:30 a.m. ET/PT each night during that weekend.
- Disney Channel Saturday Mornings – Disney Channel Saturday Mornings is a Saturday morning animation block that debuted as "Toonin' Saturdays" on June 17, 2011, the lineup primarily consists of double-episode airings of Disney Channel original animated series Fish Hooks 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; the block is also sometimes preempted in favor of other Disney Channel original programs.
Seasonal programming blocks
- Disney Channel Summer – The network runs summer programming blocks every year with differing themes. 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. As with the other seasonal blocks, Disney Channel kept the name of the event the same from 2011 as "Disney Channel Summer".
- Monstober – In October, Disney Channel airs Halloween-themed programming in an annual event, titled "Monstober", which Disney announced they would continue to use due to its popularity in 2011.Halloween films such as the Halloweentown series have premiered in this block, 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. As with the other seasonal blocks, Disney Channel kept the name of the event the same from 2011 as "Monstober".
- Fa-la-la-lidays – 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 Christmas in July week with encores of Christmas-themed programming is featured in that summer month. As with the other seasonal blocks, Disney Channel kept the name of the event the same from 2011 as "Fa-la-la-lidays".
- JaNEWary – A New Year's Eve tradition going back to the Zoog Disney days in 2000, the network airs a marathon into the early morning of New Year's Day featuring programs, films and moments selected by viewer vote on disneychannel.com, followed by an original series marathon on New Year's Day (the exception was 2011 due to New Year's Eve occurring on a Saturday that year). This sometimes leads into a month-long lineup of new episodes of the channel's original programs that air each weekend during that month. As with the other seasonal blocks, Disney Channel kept the name of the event the same from 2011 as "JaNEWary".
- Disney Nighttime – As a premium channel from 1983 to 1997, the Disney Channel featured programming aimed at adult audiences during the evening and overnight hours under the banner title "Disney Nighttime". Unlike the nighttime content aired on the channel's then-competitors (such as HBO and Showtime) at the time of its launch, the "adult" programming featured on Disney Channel was largely devoid of any sexual and excessive or graphically violent content and profanity. Programming seen during Disney Nighttime included older feature films (similar to those seen at the time on American Movie Classics, and eventually Turner Classic Movies, with both Disney film titles and movies from other film studios mixed in), along with original concert specials (featuring artists ranging from Rick Springfield to Elton John) anddocumentaries.
- Toonin' Tuesday – From 1992 to 1997, the Disney Channel ran a weekly program block called "Toonin' Tuesday", which featured various animated programs each Tuesday starting at 6 p.m. ET; "Toonin' Tuesday" primarily featured animated films and specials (though reruns of The Charlie Brown and Snoopy Show sometimes aired as part of the block).
- Triple Feature Friday – This block, which ran each Friday starting at 5 p.m. ET from 1994 to 1997, featured three different films – sometimes regardless of each film's genre – that were tied to a specific subject.
- Magical World of Disney – This block was used as a Sunday night umbrella for movies and specials on the Disney Channel starting in 1990, originally airing exclusively on Sunday evenings at 7 p.m. ET. From the channel's first major on-air rebrand in 1997 until 1999, the Magical World of Disney became the de facto branding for the Disney Channel's nightly films that aired at 7 p.m. ET/PT.
- 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 late afternoon/early evening programming block called "Block Party".
- Vault Disney – Disney Nighttime was replaced by "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 a.m. ET (although the block had a 9 p.m. ET start time on Sunday nights from 1997 to 1999). 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. This block was discontinued in September 2002, in favor of running reruns of the channel's original and acquired series during the evening and overnight hours.
- 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 were given human voices (some of whom acted 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 redesigned with cel shading and given mature voices in 2001, though the remade Zoog characters were discontinued after less than a year; the entire Zoog Disney block was phased out by September 2002. From September 2001 to August 2002, the afternoon and primetime lineups on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays were branded under the umbrella title "Zoog Weekendz".
Current sister channels
Disney XD is a digital cable and satellite television channel in the United States, which is aimed at males aged 7–14. The channel 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 and its sister channel Disney Junior, Disney XD is an advertiser-supported service. The channel carries the same name as an unrelated mini-site and media player on Disney.com, which stood for Disney Xtreme Digital, though it is said that the "XD" in the channel's name does not have an actual meaning.On July 15, 2017, a programming block on this channel debuted, called DXP. It is dedicated to teen gamers and runs from 9 pm to 3 am.
Disney Junior On May 26, 2010, Disney-ABC Television Group announced the launch of a new digital cable and satellite channel targeted at preschool-aged children called Disney Junior, which debuted on March 23, 2012. The Disney Junior channel – which like Disney Channel (though unlike Disney XD or the channel Disney Junior replaced, Soapnet), is commercial-free – competes with other preschooler-skewing cable channels such as Nick Jr., qubo and PBS Kids Sprout. The channel features programs from Disney Channel's existing preschool programming library and films from the Walt Disney Pictures film library. Disney Junior took over the channel space held by Soapnet – a Disney-owned cable channel featuring soap operas – due to the soap opera genre's decline in popularity 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 genre. An automated Soapnet feed continues to exist, though, for providers that have not yet made carriage agreements for Disney Junior (such as Dish Network) and those that have kept Soapnet as part of their lineups while adding Disney Junior as an additional channel (such as DirecTV and Cox Communications); it is unclear when or if Soapnet will completely cease operations.
The former Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel was rebranded as Disney Junior on February 14, 2011, with the 22 existing Playhouse Disney-branded cable channels and program blocks outside the United States having since rebranded under the Disney Junior name. Disney-ABC Television Group previously planned to launch a domestic Playhouse Disney Channel in the U.S. (which would have served the same target audience as Disney Junior) in 2001, however this planned network never launched, although dedicated Playhouse Disney Channels did launch outside of the United States.
Former sister channels
Main article: Toon Disney
Toon Disney launched on April 18, 1998 (coinciding with the 15th anniversary of parent network Disney Channel's launch), and was aimed at children between the ages of 6- and 12-years-old. The network's main competitors were Turner Broadcasting/Time Warner's Cartoon Network and Boomerang, and Viacom/MTV Networks' Nicktoons. Unlike Disney Channel, Toon Disney was advertiser-supported. The channel carried a format of reruns of Walt Disney Television Animation and Disney Channel-produced animated programming, along with some third-party programs from other distributors, animated films and original programming. In 2004, 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's programming on Sunday nights for interested subscribers. The network ceased operations on February 13, 2009 and was replaced with the preteen male-oriented Disney XD, featuring a broader array of programming, with a heavier emphasis on live-action programs.
- Disney Channel HD – Disney Channel HD is a high definition simulcast feed of Disney Channel that broadcasts in the 720p resolution format; the feed first began broadcasting on March 19, 2008. Most of the channel's original programming since 2009 is produced and broadcast in HD, along with feature films, Disney Channel original movies made after 2005 and select episodes, films and series produced before 2009. Disney XD and Disney Junior also offer their own high-definition simulcast feeds.
- Disney Channel On Demand – 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.
- WATCH Disney Channel – WATCH Disney Channel is a website for desktop computers, as well as an application for smartphones and tablet computers that allows subscribers of participating cable and satellite providers (such as Comcast Xfinity and Cox Communications) to watch live streams of Disney Channel's programming on computers and mobile devices – subscribers are required to useverification codes supplied by participating providers in order to access live streams. Individual episodes of the channel's series (which are also available to non-Disney Channel subscribers on a limited basis), along with additional content such as behind-the-scenes features also are available.
Criticism and controversies
Disney Channel has received some criticism for their current programming direction. 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 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" was pulled before its broadcast after complaints from parents who saw the episode through video on demand services due to misconceptions regarding diabetics and sugar intake (the Mitchel Musso character of Oliver Oken is revealed in the episode to have been diagnosed with Type I diabetes). Portions of that 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 pulled episodes of two of its original series from the network's broadcast cycle – the season one Shake It Up episode "Party It Up", and the So Random! episode "Colbie Caillat" – after Demi Lovato (star of So Random! parent series Sonny with a Chance, who was treated for bulimia in 2010) objected on Twitter to jokes featured in both episodes (the Shake It Up episode, in particular) that made light of eating disorders.
Main article: Disney Channel (international)
Disney Channel has established channels in various countries worldwide including South Africa, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, United Kingdom, Ireland, Caribbean, the Netherlands and Flanders. Disney Channel also licenses its programming to air on certain other broadcast and cable channels outside the United States (such as Family Channel in Canada), regardless as to whether an international version of Disney Channel exists in the country.