ABC1 (UK and Irish TV channel)
|Launched||27 September 2004|
|Closed||26 September 2007|
|Owned by||Disney–ABC Television Group|
|Audience share||0.3% (September 2007, )|
|Replaced by||Playhouse Disney +|
(at time of closure)
|Freeview||Channel 15 (except Wales)|
(06:00 - 18:00)
|Virgin Media||Channel 161|
|UPC Ireland||Channel 506|
|Tiscali TV||Channel 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.
ABC1 channel initially launched exclusively on the British digital terrestrial television platform Freeview on 27 September 2004 but only from 6am to 6pm 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. In December 2004 it was launched on Telewest's digital cable service, and on 14 December on the NTL digital cable service.
In March 2005, ABC1 took its first advertisement from Procter and Gamble. Also in 2005, Sky started carrying the channel. In the summer 2006, a Playhouse Disney block was added to the schedule in the morning.
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 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.
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.
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).
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
- 8 Simple Rules (ABC) (ABC Studios) (also shown on Comedy Central and 5Star)*
- Americas Funniest Home Videos (Season 6-8) (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Everybody Loves Raymond (CBS) CBS Distribution Television)
- Ellen (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Full House (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Ghost Whisperer (CBS) (ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios) (also shown on E4 and Sky Living)
- Home Improvement (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Hope & Faith (ABC) (ABC Studios) (also shown on RTÉ One and RTÉ Two)
- In Justice (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Less than Perfect (ABC) (ABC Studios) (also shown on Comedy Central Extra and RTÉ Two)
- Scrubs (NBC, ABC) (Touchstone Television/ABC Studios) (also shown on Channel 4, E4, 4Music , Sky 1, Comedy Central and RTÉ Two)*
Playhouse Disney on ABC1
- Higglytown Heroes
- JoJo's Circus
- Little Einsteins
- Mickey Mouse Clubhouse
- The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh
Cancelled before closure
- Beg, Borrow & Deal
- Brotherly Love (NBC)
- Commander in Chief (ABC) (ABC Studios) (also shown on More4)
- Daddio (NBC) (ABC Studios)
- Empty Nest (NBC)
- General Hospital
- The Guardian (CBS) (Sony Pictures Television)
- Kevin Hill (UPN) (ABC Studios) (also shown on E4)
- Mad About You (NBC) (Sony Pictures Television) (also shown on Sky Living, and RTÉ One)
- Moonlighting (ABC) (ABC Circle Films) (now ABC Studios) (also shown on CBS Drama)
- Nurses (NBC)
- Once and Again (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Party of Five (FOX) (Sony Pictures Television) (also shown on CBS Drama)
- The Sinbad Show (FOX) (ABC Studios)
- Soul Man
- Sports Night (ABC) (ABC Studios)
- Thunder Alley
- Unhappily Ever After (The WB)
- "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 19 September 2008. Retrieved 16 February 2009.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
- Stewart, Lianne (1 April 2006). "New kid on the U.K. Freeview block". Kidscreen. Brunico Communications Ltd. Retrieved 3 April 2015.
- Deans, Jason (5 August 2004). "ABC spells out plans for Freeview channel". The Guardian. Retrieved 19 February 2014.
- (5 August 2004). Disney plans Freeview TV channel. BBC. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
- (5 August 2004). Disney plans ad-free start for new channel. BroadcastNow.co.uk. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
- (7 December 2004). ABC1 expands on to UK cable. C21 Media. Accessed on 19 February 2014.
- Shelley, Darren (14 December 2004). "ABC1 comes to ntl". digitalspy.com. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "ABC1 takes first ads". Broadcast Now. 24 March 2005. Retrieved 20 February 2014.
- "Disney pulls plug on ABC1". Digital Spy. 26 September 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2007.
- Official site (archived)