Disney Channel chose last month’s Western Cable Show in Anaheim, California, to announce the launch of Toon Disney, a basic cable network offering Disney animation 24 hours a day. The channel will kick off on April 18, the day of Disney Channel’s 15th anniversary.
According to Shirley Powell, vice president of media relations, the time is right for the launch. ‘It’s a move to provide cable operators that are expanding [with] a proven brand-name product,’ she says. Although the channel is being launched commercial-free, advertising will be added as the network gains distribution. ‘That will depend on how fast the network grows to critical mass,’ says Powell.
Unlike Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network, Toon Disney-targeted to kids age two to 11 and their families-will not have adult series or adult animation during the late hours, but will repeat the same animated shows aired during the day. ‘The schedule is not set in stone,’ notes Powell. ‘We’re firming up what will be on [and that will be announced] closer to April.’ She adds that airing cartoons late at night is viable for the network because many adults love animation. Still, she says, ‘the overnight is not expected to be our strongest rating.’
The channel will draw from more than 2,200 episodes of animated television programming in The Walt Disney Company library. Classic product and recent Disney Channel shows, such as The Little Mermaid and Gummi Bears, will air, but at different times than on Disney Channel.
Powell notes that Disney Channel is also in negotiations with satellite distributors to carry Toon Disney.