Disney is in the "experience business." More than a just a
brand, the company excels at creating channels (parks, stores, web,
programming) for families to connect, make memories, and even a
little magic, even more so now with the launch of Disney Junior,
the new, learning-focused multiplatform brand replacing Playhouse
Nancy Kanter, Sr. Vice President, Original Programing and
General Manager, Disney Junior Worldwide, oversees
the development and production of all the long and
short-form live action and animated shows our children love to
watch, and also heads up the creative vision and content on a
Learn more about how Kanter chooses
creative programming for children.
Since forums and fan pages first started buzzing about the new
Disney Junior brand, questions have been plentiful and answers not
Kanter was kind enough to join me for a in-depth look at Disney
Junior, from its intense development stages to its new animated
series - five in all - that will be joining the current programming
line up, including another season of breakout hit, "Jake and the
Never Land Pirates."
How long has Disney Junior been in the
We started thinking about how to bring our programming for
preschoolers to the next level almost two years ago. We had been
hearing pretty consistently from moms that they wanted more of our
content available during parts of the day beyond the morning block
- late afternoon, evenings. And, they were specifically asking for
our Playhouse Disney content and other types of content that were
very clearly tied to Disney. At that point we really dove in and
tried to understand the full preschool landscape and what the
opportunities were for us to be not "me too" but truly unique and
different from what was already out there.
What was the thought process behind launching this new
Through Disney Junior, we are responding to what parents have
asked us for - more of the Disney brand essence they know and love
- and ultimately - a dedicated 24-hour destination for young kids
featuring stories and characters that make kids of all ages feel
something in their heart.
Extensive research helped define the vision for Disney Junior.
Talking to moms, dads and parents/kids together, the researchers
identified what resonates with parents of children ages 2-7, what
they and their parents expect from the Disney brand and what they
feel is currently missing from the preschool television
The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our
global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the
premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the U.K.
Will Playhouse Disney cease to exist? What about Disney
Playhouse Disney has been rebranded Disney Junior, so no more
Playhouse Disney. That said, viewers' current favorites: "Mickey
Mouse Clubhouse," "Handy Manny," "Special Agent Oso," "Jungle
Junction," "Little Einsteins" and "Imagination Movers," will
continue to be seen on Disney Junior.
Additionally, five new series anchored by the new animated
adventure series "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" have joined the
Disney Junior schedule: the short form titles "Mickey
Mousekersize," "Special Agent Oso: Three Healthy Steps" (supporting
Disney's Magic of Healthy Living initiative) and "A Poem Is..."
(narrated by Jennifer Garner and Katie Holmes, among other familiar
voices), and full length series "Babar and the Adventures of Badou"
and "Tinga Tinga Tales."
In 2012 Disney Junior will debut as a 24-hour basic cable and
satellite channel in the U.S. The new Disney Junior channel will
take the place of the SOAPnet channel, currently available in 75
Disney XD is a basic cable channel and multi-platform brand
showcasing a compelling mix of live-action and animated programming
for Kids age 6-14, hyper-targeting boys and their quest for
discovery, accomplishment, sports, adventure and humor. It is a
separate network and not all affected by anything related to Disney
In its premiere week, Disney Junior delivered the Disney
Channel's best ratings ever. What makes every Disney touches so
We are certainly finding that when we deliver the kind of
storytelling and characters that define the Disney experience, it
is joyously embraced and celebrated by our audience. Nobody
knows how to tell stories with real emotion and heart better than
Disney does, and when we are true to that we almost always see
success. The new on air look and feel of Disney Junior and
our series, "Jake and the Never Land Pirates" really hit the
bull's-eye for our viewers.
Will viewers see a return of some older favorites like
"Rolie Polie Olie," "Higglytown Heroes" or even newer shows like
"My Friends Tigger + Pooh?"
We are definitely looking at our library of past shows - some of
which we had to retire before their time because we didn't have the
programming slots available in a programming block - to see which
ones would be good additions to our lineup once we have the full 24
hr/7 day a week channel up and running.
Can viewers expect more new programming to join the
Disney Junior line-up?
We're busy in various stages of development and production on
more new series. We just announced the following for Disney
Junior at our Kids Upfronts presentation in New York City in
What does Disney Junior offer viewers that similar
Disney Junior will be set apart by programming that reflects the
Disney experience - magical stories that make you feel something in
your heart, while still providing educational value for kids age
2-7. Through rich character and storytelling, we think we can make
shows that will be of the sort parents will want to find the time
to sit down and watch WITH their child. We know that parent
engagement in the media their young children consume can have a
very important benefit in terms of learning as well as become a
gateway for conversations with children around the storylines and
themes that are presented.
Will Disney Junior branding reach the Disney
"Playhouse Disney - Live on Stage!" was rebranded and opened
early March as "Disney Junior - Live on Stage!" at both Disney
California Adventure and Disney Hollywood Studios.
Can park guests expect to see a new cast of characters
based on Disney Junior programming?
"Disney Junior - Live on Stage!" now features characters from
our hugely successful new series, "Jake and the Never Land
What does Disney Junior offer parents and
Disney Junior invites parents and grandparents to join their
children in the ultimate Disney experience filled with magical,
musical and heartfelt stories and characters, both classic and new,
while incorporating specific learning and developmental themes
designed for children ages 2-7. It is a television
destination enjoyable for children and parents alike, including
older children and siblings already engaged in our content, who we
want to feel included in Disney Junior.
Disney Junior's animated and live action programming blends
Disney's unparalleled storytelling and beloved characters with
learning components, including early math and language skills, as
well as healthy eating and lifestyles, with an emphasis on social
and emotional development. Disney Junior celebrates childhood by
encouraging children to laugh, sing, dance and have fun, inclusive
of the developmental messages so important to their young
minds. Disney Junior will be the ultimate TV destination for
children, and for many, their first connection with the Disney
Maria Pilar Clark is a mom times two and Windy City-based writer.
See more of Pilar's stories here.
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