A choice 10:30 a.m. time slot has been selected for Sabrina the Animated Series, ABC’s only fall debut, launching September 11. The series immediately follows the Disney’s One Saturday Morning block, which runs from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 a.m. and has become a network ratings leader as it enters its third year. Thirteen new episodes of Disney’s Mickey MouseWorks, a series which debuted in May in the noon slot, will also be highlighted in fall promotions, says Jonathan Barzilay, senior VP and GM of ABC children’s programming.
‘We’re treating it like a new show, although it debuted during the May sweeps-an important time in our business but not a prime viewing season,’ he says. ‘As you would expect with programs that feature core [Disney] characters, the entire company gets behind it.’
Both new series will be touted in commercial spots running in prime time on ABC, including the network’s TGIF Friday night block, home of Sabrina the Teenage Witch, the live-action predecessor to Sabrina the Animated Series. ‘Nowhere is [Disney's] synergy more apparent than in the case of Sabrina, with the live-action show and Saturday morning animated series,’ says Barzilay. ‘The hope is we can drive Friday night Sabrina loyalists into Saturday morning,’ he notes. Immediately following girls hit Pepper Ann, the toon is expected to pull in strong numbers among girls ages six to 11. The animated Sabrina finds the witch at a younger age than in the live-action series, with the 12-year-old star getting into predicaments while trying to test her magic powers.
Disney’s Mickey MouseWorks pulls in co-stars Donald Duck, Goofy, Pluto and Minnie Mouse for animated comedy shorts linked together in a series format. Two new interstitial short series also debut this fall: Manny’s America, featuring previously seen character Manny the Uncanny as he travels to quirky locations across America, and What’s the Diff?, a quiz-type format spun off of a Highlights Magazine concept. Production of the interstitials was overseen by Disney’s One Saturday Morning executive producer Peter Hastings.
For the entire month of September, Toys `R’ Us has signed on for a third year of cross-promotions for the ABC kids block, including a return of last year’s sweepstakes for a truckload of toys (last year’s promotion received 750,000 entries). Disney’s One Saturday Morning and Wonderful World of Disney premiums will also be distributed in stores during the back-to-school campaign, including over 4 million sticker books allowing kids to apply stickers to create their own little animated flip books, says Barzilay.