Disney Junior, a 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel expressly for kids age 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, will launch Friday, March 23 in the U.S., joining 28 other Disney Junior channels around the world.
From Disney press release:
New Channel will introduce Doc McStuffins, New Editions of A Poem Is... and a Magical World of Disney Junior Movie Block; Learning and Development Curriculum Guided by Council of Leading Academics
Disney Junior, a 24-hour basic cable/satellite channel expressly for kids age 2-7 and their parents/caregivers, will launch Friday, March 23 (12:00 midnight, ET/PT) in the U.S., joining 28 other Disney Junior channels around the world. The announcement was made today at the Television Critics Association Press Tour in Pasadena, California, by Gary Marsh, President and Chief Creative Officer, Disney Channels Worldwide. 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.
The popular 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 major cable and satellite providers Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon, among others. Additional information regarding Disney Junior is available at DisneyJuniorTheChannel.com.
Marsh said: "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."
Disney Junior invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. A council of academic advisors comprising experts in the fields of child development, transmedia, storytelling, early education and creativity will guide Disney Junior's learning and development curriculum.
Nancy Kanter, Senior Vice President, Original Programming and General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, said: "Disney Junior series each have specific curriculum experts and now, to maximize overall learning value, we are deepening our conversation to include a channel advisory council that will share research and knowledge in the world of education and bring important perspectives on innovations in early childhood learning."
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.
About Disney Junior: Disney Junior reflects the emotional connection generations of consumers have to Disney storytelling and Disney characters, both classic and contemporary. It invites mom and dad to join their child in the Disney experience of magical, musical and heartfelt stories and characters, while incorporating specific learning and development themes designed for kids age 2-7. Disney Junior’s animated and live action series blend Disney’s unparalleled storytelling and characters kids love deeply with learning, including early math, language skills, healthy eating and lifestyles, and social skills. Disney Junior launched in February 2011 with a daily programming block on Disney Channel. In its first year, Disney Junior posted the network's biggest yearly audience in the daypart in Total Viewers, Kids 2-5, Boys 2-5, Girls 2-5 and Women 18-49 and increased by double-digit margins among preschooler demographics over year-ago levels.
About Disney Channels Worldwide: Disney Channels Worldwide is a portfolio of 100 kid-driven, family inclusive entertainment channels and/or channel feeds available in 169 countries in 35 languages, spanning Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior, Disney Cinemagic, Hungama and Radio Disney brands. Through cable, satellite and digital terrestrial television channels and a strategic partnership with Disney-ABC-ESPN Television for the third-party distribution of Disney-branded kids' programming across the globe, Disney Channels Worldwide reaches hundreds of millions of viewers. Disney Channel properties continue to rapidly expand into new markets across the world, playing a key role in introducing the Disney brand to new consumers.
Jennifer Wolfe is Director of News & Content at Animation World Network.