At a star-studded presentation held in New York this evening, featuring performances by Bridgit Mendler (star of Good Luck Charlie) and recording artist Ross Lynch - and an impromptu appearance by Crash from Crash & Bernstein (pictured with Gary Marsh) - the House of Mouse unveiled its 2013-14 programming plans for Disney Channel, Disney XD, Disney Junior and Radio Disney.
The suite of Disney Kids channels in the US keeps moving from strength to strength. EVP of Disney Media Sales and Marketing Rita Ferro noted that 2012 was a record-breaking year for mainstay Disney Channel. For the first time in 17 years, Disney Channel bumped Nickelodeon from the top spot in overall kids two to 11 ratings. Ferro said the net has achieved a good balance between girl and boy viewers with successful series like Austin & Ally and Good Luck Charlie engaging boys while continuing to attract that core tween girl audience.
Boy-skewing Disney XD, meanwhile, marked its 16th-consecutive quarter of ratings growth since its 2009 launch. And new 24/7 preschool channel Disney Junior, which is now available is more than 55 million US households, will deliver its first set of Nielsen ratings next month. Its morning block on Disney Channel has had big ratings successes with Doc McStuffins (the number one series with kids two to five in 2012), Jake and the Neverland Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and newcomer Sophia the First, whose November debut was the top telecast in cable TV history with kids two to five.
This year, Ferro said Disney Kids, along with serving its core two to 11 viewers, is looking to build its conversations with moms, especially via Disney Junior’s evening block that features mom-focused content that’s kid-friendly and through Radio Disney, where moms listen along with 70% of its kids audience.
As for growing advertising opportunities, Disney will be pushing inventory on its new group of free WATCH apps (WATCH Disney Channel, WATCH Disney Junior and WATCH Disney XD), which have logged more than 12 million downloads and over half a billion video views. The Disney Channel and DXD apps will be offered up first and advertisers will have the opportunity to place ads across platforms or build ones on the apps around specific series. Ferro said there’s a lot of customizability with the platform.
In terms of new programming, here are the highlights for the three channels.
Disney Channel: At the event, Disney Channels Worldwide president and CCO Gary Marsh unveiled a new series of cartoon shorts starring none other than the chief mouse himself. The Disney Television Animation Mickey Mouse shorts will be available exclusively on Disney.com as of today and will begin rolling out on June 28 on Disney Channel, Disney.com and WATCH Disney Channel.
New series pickups include Liv & Maddie (working title), which finds 17-year-old newcomer Dove Cameron playing the dual role of identical twins in the live-action sitcom. The series was created by John Beck and Ron Hart (both of According to Jim).
Then there’s the just announced animated comedy Star and the Forces of Evil (working title) from Disney Television Animation that introduces magical teen princess Star Butterfly to the unsuspecting inhabitants of Earth.
Entrants from last year’s upfront Teen Beach Movie, set to debut on July 19, and Craig McCracken’s Wander Over Yonder, premiering this summer, were also highlighted.
On the returning series front, long-running hit Phineas and Ferb is getting a mash up with the Marvel Universe in the animated special Phineas and Ferb: Mission Marvel, which premieres this summer on Disney Channel and Disney XD. It’s a crossover first for Marvel and Disney and we’ll see the eponymous pair meet up with Spider-Man, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk in Danville. Other series getting renewals are: Austin & Ally (season three), A.N.T. Farm (season three), Good Luck Charlie (season four) and Gravity Falls (season two).
Disney XD: You can expect Marvel to expand its presence on the channel with two new series joining the Marvel block this summer. Marvel’s Avengers Assemble follows the antics of Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Falcon and premieres on July 7. The second entrant, Hulk and the Agents S.M.A.S.H., teams up Hulk, his cousin She-Hulk, A-Bomb, Red Hulk and Skaar to form an eccentric family living under one roof. It debuts August 11.
Disney Junior: Three new series are slated to join the lineup. Henry Hugglemonster, the CGI series animated by Ireland’s Brown Bag Films, based on a property from Walker Books, debuted in the UK this winter and is set to cross the pond next month. Sheriff Callie’s Wild West (formerly Oki’s Oasis) from DXH Media in association with Disney Junior, meanwhile, will debut in September and is touted as the first western for preschoolers. Finally, The 7D puts a new comedic twist on the lives of the famed Seven Dwarfs before Snow White’s arrival. Slated to debut in 2014 on Disney Junior channels and blocks worldwide, the series from Disney Television Animation takes place in Jollywood, where Queen Delightful relies on Happy, Bashful, Sleepy, Sneezy, Dopey, Grumpy and Doc to keep the kingdom in order – with varying degrees of success.