The Walt Disney Company says its newest basic cable channel, Disney Junior, will launch March 23rd in the US. The 24-hour cable/satellite channel is aimed at children ages 2-7 and their parents/caregivers.
The concept is not new. Disney already has 28 other Disney Junior channels operating around the world. In the US Disney Junior was introduced as a daily programming block on Disney Channel in February 2010 and, year to year, its ratings are up 26% among Kids 2-5 and 36% among Boys 2-5.
That Disney Junior daily programming block will continue on Disney Channel while the new 24 hour channel will fulfill parents’ demands for quintessentially Disney programming throughout the day. The Disney Junior channel will be available via several major cable and satellite providers, including Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon, among others.
“This marks the beginning of a sea change in the ‘preschool plus’ television landscape. The response to our Disney Junior programming block has been extremely positive from both our affiliate partners and our viewers’ parents. On March 23, when it launches as a stand-alone channel, our audience will have the opportunity to experience an engaging, learning-focused and uniquely Disney destination on a 24-hour basis,” said Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide.
The 24 hour Disney Junior schedule will include daily telecasts of “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” (the #1 series among Boys 2-5 for 2011) and the hit series “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.” It will also introduce the animated series “Doc McStuffins” at launch, and will feature new editions of the acclaimed short-form series “A Poem Is…” and a weekend movie block, “Magical World of Disney Junior.” New interstitials featuring Disney heritage characters, including Sebastian and Flounder from “The Little Mermaid,” Mrs. Potts and Chip from “Beauty and the Beast,” and pups Lucky and Pepper “101 Dalmatians,” will also debut.
The programming schedule includes:
“Doc McStuffins” – an animated series about a six-year-old girl who communicates with and heals stuffed animals and toys in her backyard clinic. Under the consultancy of the Hollywood Health & Society division of the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center, the series will highlight the importance of taking care of oneself and others, while showcasing the hallmarks of great Disney storytelling – fantasy and wish fulfillment. Emmy Award-winning writer/producer Chris Nee (“Little Bill” and “Deadliest Catch: Crab Fishing in Alaska”) is the creator and executive producer, and Emmy Award-winning Norton Virgien (“Rugrats”) is the director. “Doc McStuffins” is a production of the Dublin, Ireland-based Brown Bag Films (two time Academy Award nominee for “Granny O’Grimm” and “Give Up Yer Aul Sins”). DisneyJunior.com will debut a “Doc McStuffins” supersite featuring an interactive clinic where kids can assist Doc in nurturing toys back to health.
“A Poem Is…” — Laura Linney, Viola Davis, John Leguizamo, Jessica Alba, Owen Wilson and Liev Schreiber are among the narrators of the second season of the acclaimed short-form series designed to introduce young children to the beauty of a poem.
“Magical World of Disney Junior” — a weekend movie night featuring telecasts of Disney’s vast array of classic and contemporary movies, including “Beauty and the Beast,” “Bambi,” “Dumbo,” “The Princess and the Frog,” “Cars,” “Toy Story 2,” “Monsters, Inc.” and “Aladdin,” among others.
“Gaspard and Lisa” — the adventures of two best friend puppies as they experience the wonders and challenges of school and family life in their Paris neighborhood. Based on the books by Anne Gutman and Georg Hallensleben, “Gaspard and Lisa” is produced by Chorion.
“Guess How Much I Love You” — a tender animated series centered on the father-son relationship between Little Nutbrown Hare and Big Nutbrown Hare. Based on the UK picture book, Guess How Much I Love You, by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram, the series will air exclusively on Disney Junior the Channel. “Guess How Much I Love You” is a production of the Australia-based SLR Productions.
In addition to current hits “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse,” “Little Einsteins,” “Handy Manny” and “Special Agent Oso,” the channel will also present viewer favorites from the past, “Higglytown Heroes,” “Stanley,” “JoJo’s Circus” and “Rolie Polie Olie,” among others.
Other upcoming programming includes “Sofia the First,” a television movie and series introducing a new little girl princess with stories designed to communicate positive messages and life lessons that are applicable to preschool-aged children; and “Oki’s Oasis,” the first western for preschoolers, starring actress and singer-songwriter Mandy Moore (Disney’s “Tangled”) as the voice of Oki, a kitty cat sheriff who ensures that the town of Nice and Friendly Corners remains the friendliest town in the West.