In a surprise move, the Disney/ABC Television Group announced that it will be shuttering one of its cable networks that’s in 75 million homes, and adding a new one to replace it.
Disappearing as of 2012 will be SOAPnet, to be replaced by Disney Junior. Disney Junior will basically be a full-time version of Playhouse Disney, which is currently available on the Disney Channel. Like Playhouse Disney, Disney Junior will be targeted to children 2 to 7, and have a learning element to its programming.
According to the release, "Prior to the launch of the 24-hour channel, the Disney Junior brand will be introduced on Disney Channel’s daily programming block for preschoolers (currently branded Playhouse Disney)."
Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group, said in a statement, ""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 UK. The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly. SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company."