During Day 1 of ABC-Disney portion of TCA, the group revealed that its Disney Junior channel now has a launch date: midnight on March 23. The 24-hour channel that will target kids 2-7 and their parents is replacing SoapNet, which is being phased out. Disney Junior started life in 2010 as a programming block on Disney Channel; that block will remain after the launch. “This marks the beginning of a sea change in the ‘preschool plus’ television landscape,” Disney Channels Worldwide president and COO Gary Marsh said in the release announcing the news. “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 will include runs of existing shows Jake And The Never Land Pirates and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and new show Doc McStuffins, as well as a weekend movie block.
Meanwhile, Disney XD said it will launch a dedicated Marvel programming block, Marvel Universe,on April 1. It will include the new series Ultimate Spider-Man and the return of The Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes new among animated short-form series and live-action interstitials that target the channel’s boys 6-14 demo.