|This article needs additional citations for verification. (September 2010)|
|Launched||February 14, 2011
(as a program block on Disney Channel)
March 23, 2012
(as a TV channel)
|Owned by||Disney Channels Worldwide
(Disney-ABC Television Group)
|Picture format||720p (HDTV)
|Slogan||Where the Magic Begins|
|Formerly called||Playhouse Disney (May 8, 1997 –February 13, 2011 )|
|Sister channel(s)||Disney Channel
|Available on most cable systems||Check your local listings|
|Verizon FiOS||260 (SD only)|
|AT&T U-verse||306 (SD)
Disney Junior is an American digital cable and satellite television network that is owned by the Disney Channels Worldwide unit of Disney-ABC Television Group, part of the Disney Media Networks division of the The Walt Disney Company. Aimed mainly for children between 3 and 9 years of age, its programming consists of original first-run television series, theatrically-released and made-for-DVD movies and select other third-party programming.
Disney Junior also lends its name to a morning and early afternoon program block seen on sister network Disney Channel, branded as "Disney Junior on Disney Channel", airing Monday through Fridays from 8 a.m.–1 p.m. (6-9 a.m. during the summer months) and weekends from 6–9 a.m. ET/PT.
The Walt Disney Company first attempted to launch a 24-hour cable channel for preschoolers in the United States in 2001, when the company announced plans to debut the Playhouse Disney Channel, a television offshoot of Disney Channel's daytime programming block Playhouse Disney. Plans for the United States network were ultimately shelved, however dedicated Playhouse Disney Channels did end up launching in other countries around the world.
The development of Disney Junior began on May 26, 2010, when Disney-ABC Television Group announced the launch of the channel as a digital cable and satellite service, which would compete with other cable channels targeted primarily at preschool-aged children such as Nick Jr., Qubo and PBS Kids Sprout; in addition, the Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel would also be renamed as Disney Junior prior to the launch of the channel of the same name. The announcement also called for the 22 existing programming blocks and cable channels outside of the United States bearing the Playhouse Disney name being renamed under the Disney Junior brand.
The flagship cable channel in the United States intended to replace Soapnet, a Disney-owned cable channel featuring daytime soap operas seen on the major broadcast networks (including sister network ABC) and reruns of former primetime drama series, due to the continued decline in popularity of soap operas on broadcast television, along the growth of video on demand services (including the online streaming availability for soap operas) and digital video recorders that negated the need for a linear channel devoted to the genre.
Disney Junior first launched as a programming block on the Disney Channel on February 14, 2011.
The Disney Junior channel was originally slated to debut in January 2012, but on July 28, 2011, Disney-ABC Television Group moved the launch date from January to an unspecified date in late spring 2012, then setting the channel's launch date to February. On January 9, 2012, Disney-ABC Television Group announced that Soapnet's shutdown date for most providers was scheduled for March 22, 2012. Disney Junior's 24-hour cable channel counterpart officially launched one day later on March 23, at 12 a.m. ET with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode "Mickey's Big Surprise" as the first program to air on the channel.
Though it in effect took over the channel space held by Soapnet, an automated feed of that channel continues to exist for providers that have not yet made carriage agreements with Disney Junior (similar to other automated channel feeds that continued to operate during the transitions of Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids to TeenNick and Fox Reality Channel to Nat Geo Wild). Although some providers (such as Cox Communications, Cablevision, DirecTV and Verizon FiOS; the latter possibly doing so due to an extra feed opening up after the loss of Funimation Channel) continue to carry Soapnet while having added the Disney Junior channel onto their channel lineups in turn.
Since its launch, Disney Junior became initially available to subscribers of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS; Other providers would sign carriage agreements to run the network following its launch:
- On March 26, 2012Cox Communications announced that it would carry Disney Junior, as part of the "Variety Pak" package. ,
- On April 3, 2012 , Disney/ABC announced that it reached a distribution agreement with the National Cable Television Cooperative to carry Disney Junior, which was expected to be launched on more than 950 independent cable companies in the 90 days following the agreement.
- Cable One added the network to its systems' digital service around May 26, 2012 .
- On June 21, 2012RCN added the network to its lineup. ,
- On July 13, 2012DirecTV announced that the network would be added to its lineup the following day. Industry observers questioned both the unexpected announcement and untraditional weekend launch of the network as being timed to a nine-day carriage dispute between DirecTV and Viacom and the loss of Nick Jr. four days previously. ,
- On December 31, 2012Charter Communications came to terms with Disney on a new wide-ranging multiple year carriage agreement for all Disney, ESPN and ABC networks, which included the addition of Disney Junior to Charter systems throughout the first quarter of 2013. ,
- On January 15, 2013AT&T U-verse also reached a deal with The Walt Disney Company on a new wide-ranging multiple year carriage agreement for all Disney, ESPN and ABC Networks, which included the addition of Disney Junior. ,
Dish Network (which is currently negotiating a new carriage agreement for all the networks TWDC offers) is currently the only major television provider that has not picked up Disney Junior.
Programming on the Disney Junior channel includes original series (such as Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins and Sofia the First), shows from the Playhouse Disney library that are currently airing on the block (such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Special Agent Oso), and short form series. The channel also includes shows formerly seen on the now-defunct Playhouse Disney block, as well as some older animated series previously seen on sister network ABC, CBS (made prior to 1996) and programs from Disney Channel and Toon Disney, in which the channel airs certain shows in reruns by popular demand (especially during the overnight graveyard slots).
The network also airs classic animated films released theatrically by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures (including Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar), along with Disney's direct-to-video sequels and original preschool projects with movie-length features, under two brandings: The Magical World of Disney Junior on weekends, and the more general Disney Junior Movie at most other times, which features a broader selection of films.
In September 2012, a series of short features called the Disney Junior Night Light began airing on the Disney Junior channel between programs shown as part of its nighttime schedule. Features seen as part of Night Light include Picture This (which presents sketches of Disney characters being drawn), DJ Tales (twists on traditional fairy tales using costumed finger puppets) and That's Fresh (featuring cooking tips segments aimed at mothers presented by celebrity chef Helen Cavallo). Additional sketches are in development.
- Disney Junior HD – A high definition simulcast of the Disney Junior channel that broadcasts in the 720p resolution format (the recommended HD format for Disney-ABC Television Group's broadcast and cable properties). It launched with the standard-definition feed of the channel on March 23, 2012 on select Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Cablevision and Verizon FIOS systems; the HD feed was later added on Comcast. DirecTV began carrying Disney Junior in HD on August 15, 2012 .
- Disney Junior On Demand – The cable channel's video-on-demand service, which offers select episodes of Disney Junior's original series. It is available to most digital cable and IPTV providers which carry the network.
- WATCH Disney Junior – The network's service providing on demand content and live-streaming of the network to tablets, mobile devices and computers via TV Everywhere authentication for providers which allow access to the service.
Disney Junior has established channels in various countries worldwide (all of which were formerly branded under the Playhouse Disney name prior to 2012). including South Africa, Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, India, Australia, New Zealand, Middle East, Scandinavia, the Baltic states, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada and the Netherlands and Flanders.
- Play nice now; Walt Disney Co. plans to introduce Playhouse Disney Channel, Broadcasting & Cable (via HighBeam Research), June 25, 2001.
- SOAPnet Will Go Dark to Make Way for Disney Junior, Entertainment Weekly, May 26, 2010
- Disney/ABC Television Group Announces Disney Junior, a New 24-Hour Channel for Preschoolers and Their Families, The Futon Critic, May 26, 2010
- Soapnet to stay on the air longer into the New Year!, Michael Fairman Soaps, July 28, 2011,
- Schneider, Michael (January 9, 2012). "Disney Junior to replace Soapnet in March". TV Guide. Retrieved January 9, 2012.
- Villarreal, Yvonne. "Show Tracker: What You're Watching — Disney Junior 24/7 channel launches Friday." Los Angeles Times Blog 22 March 2012. Web. 19 April 2012.
- Disney Junior Launches on Friday; SOAPnet to Continue on Some Carriers, Hollywood Reporter, March 22, 2012.
- Disney Junior will Launch Saturday, July 14 to Millions of DIRECTV Customers Nationwide
- Liebermann, David (July 13, 2012). "A Challenge To Viacom? DirecTV Adds Disney Junior To Programming Lineup". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved July 14, 2012.
- "The Walt Disney Company and Charter Communications Announce New Distribution Agreement". The Futon Critic. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 1 January 2013.
- Farrell, Mike (January 15, 2013). "Disney Strikes U-Verse Carriage Deal". Broadcasting & Cable. Retrieved January 15, 2013.
- Dealicious Mom (January 12, 2012). "24 Hour Disney Junior Channel Coming March 2012! Updated!". Dealicious Mom. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- Dickson, Jeremy (August 29, 2012). "First look: DJ Tales to bow on Disney Junior Night Light". Kidscreen. Retrieved September 24, 2012.
- "Disney Announces Disney Junior, a 24-hr channel for Preschoolers & families". Laughing Place. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- Frost, John (May 27, 2010). "Disney Junior to replace Soapnet in Cable Lineup". The Disney Blog. Retrieved February 5, 2012.
- "On August 15 four exciting channels will be available in eye-popping HD!". DirecTV. August 15, 2012. Retrieved January 24, 2013.