ABC1 (UK and Irish TV channel)

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ABC1 logo
Launched27 September 2004; 15 years ago (2004-09-27)
Closed26 September 2007; 12 years ago (2007-09-26)
Owned byDisney–ABC Television Group
Audience share0.3% (September 2007, [1])
Replaced byPlayhouse Disney + (archive)
(at time of closure)
FreeviewChannel 15 (except Wales)
(06:00 - 18:00)
SkyChannel 170
Virgin MediaChannel 161
UPC IrelandChannel 506
Tiscali TVChannel 21

ABC1 was a British television channel owned by the Disney-ABC Television Group division of The Walt Disney Company, available to the viewers in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland. It used the branding of the Disney-owned American network, ABC.

The channel had general entertainment programming with programming from the US parent channel, apart from the weekend morning programming block Playhouse Disney, which was aimed at children.[2][3]


ABC1 channel initially launched exclusively on the British digital terrestrial television platform Freeview on 27 September 2004 but only from 6am to 6pm[3] with the expectations to eventually broadcast 24/7 by 2010. The channel did not air commercials for the first few months to build up viewers.[4][5] In December 2004 it was launched on Telewest's digital cable service,[6] and on 14 December on the NTL digital cable service.[7]

In March 2005, ABC1 took its first advertisement from Procter and Gamble.[8] Also in 2005, Sky started carrying the channel.[9] In the summer 2006, a Playhouse Disney block was added to the schedule in the morning.[2]

It was announced on 7 September 2007, that ABC1 would cease broadcasting on all UK TV platforms, due to Disney deciding to concentrate on their other channels and lack of primetime availability on Freeview. Despite being scheduled to close down on 1 October 2007, ABC1 ceased broadcasting on all UK TV platforms at noon on 26 September 2007; the final program on ABC1 was an episode of Home Improvement.


The schedule consisted entirely of American drama and comedy. The channel generally made use of the ABC Television Studio back-catalogue. Programs were mainly from the ABC network, such as Sports Night. It broadcast America's Funniest Home Videos, the 94-97 episodes hosted by comedian Bob Saget, Home Improvement, Full House and Everybody Loves Raymond. Some of its programmes such as Home Improvement, Full House, Everybody Loves Raymond, America’s Funniest Home Videos (94-97 episodes) and 8 Simple Rules were also seen in the UK on Disney Channel.

On 28 February and 1 March 2005, the network shook up its schedule by introducing two major new comedies, Hope & Faith and Less than Perfect to sandwich around the big ratings success of 8 Simple Rules. On 31 May the channel introduced Rodney to its schedule at 4pm weekdays and from 4 July ABC1 began to air Scrubs, which is also seen on other UK channels, E4, Channel 4, Sky 1 and Comedy Central.

For the first year after launching ABC1 broadcast from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm only. Commencing 26 September 2005, the channel broadcast 24 hours a day on Sky and NTL (now Virgin Media) services. However, the channel did not go 24-hours on the Telewest (now also Virgin Media) digital cable service until 21 October 2005, and remained a 12-hour service on Freeview due to space restrictions on the platform. It is known that Disney would have liked the channel to go 24 hours on Freeview[citation needed] to boost its audience share in the evenings. NTL Ireland carried ABC1 24-hours, but for unknown reasons (a problem at ABC1, according to NTL) the guide reported "Channel Off Air" at 6:00 pm every day[citation needed].

ABC1 added US drama Kevin Hill to its schedule on 26 September 2005 as well as the second seasons of Less than Perfect and Sports Night towards the end of the year. 8 Simple Rules Season 3 was shown in March 2006, followed by Commander In Chief, and The Guardian, which joined the channel in April 2006.

On 5 June 2006, ABC1 introduced a block of programming from Playhouse Disney, including Higglytown Heroes, JoJo's Circus and Stanley. In July 2006, ABC1 started to air the second season of Scrubs and cult 90s drama Party of Five. In August more new programming was made available from ABC1 from the likes of Rodney season 2 and a change in the schedule for Playhouse Disney on ABC1 with the addition of Little Einsteins.

As of August 2006, all drama programming had been removed and the channel consisted of back to back sitcoms, though some drama programming did come back in 2007. In September 2006 Hope & Faith season 3 started and broadcasting every Thursday in double bills from 9:00 pm. Season 3 of Less than Perfect also started in October.

ABC1 was keen for its viewers to be able to see all of its programming on offer, and many programmes that premièred on the channel during non-Freeview hours were repeated at another time when the channel was available on Freeview (exceptions to this were The Guardian due to its subject matter, Ghost Whisperer and In Justice; although promotions for these programmes would air during the day whilst the channel was available on Freeview). It was also the only channel to time its running schedule so that Freeview viewers did not crash in and out of programmes at the 6:00 am/6:00 pm junctions.[citation needed]

The vast majority of shows shown on ABC1 had ended, with only two shows still in production, Ghost Whisperer and Scrubs (although ABC1 did not have the rights to later seasons of Scrubs and only the right for series 1 of Ghost Whisperer).

Commercial placement[edit]

Unlike most UK broadcasters, for its first six months ABC1 did not carry any commercials. However, it did have full-length ad-style breaks featuring trailers for its own shows and those of the Disney Channel.

On ABC1, the advertising slots were placed in the American style of being close to the beginning and end of the programme, unlike the European fashion of between programmes and in the middle. The American style usually has the adverts at approximately 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 minutes past the hour as opposed to the standard European style of 0, 15, 30 and 45 minutes past, although ABC1 often did without the breaks at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. The exact placing of adverts varied among shows and episodes, and could be anything from half a minute to eight minutes before or after the beginning and end of a show. On ABC1, hour-length programmes (such as Commander In Chief) were often split into just three parts with the two ad-slots either end of the programme and the third roughly at the halfway point. ABC1 breaks were considerably longer than is customary in the UK due to the shortening of American TV series which has been ongoing for decades. As of 2007 the average American sitcom runs at 20 minutes while the average drama runs 40 minutes. ABC1 often filled long breaks with bumpers and promotions of its own, or Disney Channel UK's, programming.


At time of closing[edit]

Playhouse Disney on ABC1[edit]

Cancelled before closure[edit]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  2. ^ a b Stewart, Lianne (1 April 2006). "New kid on the U.K. Freeview block". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications Ltd. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
  3. ^ a b Deans, Jason (5 August 2004). "ABC spells out plans for Freeview channel". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
  4. ^ (5 August 2004). Disney plans Freeview TV channel. BBC. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
  5. ^ (5 August 2004). Disney plans ad-free start for new channel. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
  6. ^ (7 December 2004). ABC1 expands on to UK cable. C21 Media. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
  7. ^ Shelley, Darren (14 December 2004). "ABC1 comes to ntl". Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  8. ^ "ABC1 takes first ads". Broadcast Now. 24 March 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Disney pulls plug on ABC1". Digital Spy. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2007.

External links[edit]