Disney Junior is an American digital cable and satellite television network that is owned by the Disney Channels Worldwide unit of the Disney–ABC Television Group, itself a unit of the Disney Media Networks division of Disney Direct-to-Consumer and International, all owned by The Walt Disney Company. Aimed mainly at children 8 years and under, its programming consists of original first-run television series, theatrically-released and made-for-DVD movies and select other third-party programming.
Until January 2017, Disney Junior also lent its name to a morning and early afternoon program block seen on sister network Disney Channel, branded as "Disney Junior on Disney Channel", airing weekdays from 6:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. (6:00 to 10:00 a.m. during the summer months and designated school break periods) and weekends from 6:00 to 9:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. A Spanish-language block airs on Univision under the name Planeta U.
As of January 2016, the channel is available to 74.0 million households in America.
The Walt Disney Company first attempted to launch a 24-hour cable channel for preschoolers in the United States, when the company announced plans to launch the Playhouse Disney Channel, a television offshoot of Disney Channel's daytime programming block Playhouse Disney, which debuted on the channel on May 8, 1997 (airing during the morning hours seven days a week, with the Monday through Friday blocks lasting until the early afternoon). Plans for the United States network were ultimately shelved, however dedicated Playhouse Disney Channels were launched in other countries internationally.
The development of Disney Junior began on May 26, 2010, when Disney-ABC Television Group announced the launch of the channel as a digital cable and satellite service, which would compete with other cable channels targeted primarily at preschool-aged children such as Nick Jr., Qubo and PBS Kids Sprout; in addition, the Playhouse Disney block on Disney Channel would also be renamed under the Disney Junior banner, prior to the launch of the channel of the same name. The announcement also called for the 22 existing programming blocks and cable channels outside of the United States bearing the Playhouse Disney name being rebranded as Disney Junior.
The flagship cable channel in the United States intended to replace Soapnet, a Disney-owned cable channel featuring daytime soap operas seen on the major broadcast networks (including sister network ABC) and reruns of former primetime drama series, due to the continued decline in popularity and quantity of soap operas on broadcast television, along the growth of video on demand services (including the online streaming availability for soap operas) and digital video recorders that negated the need for a linear channel devoted to the genre.
Disney Junior first launched as a programming block on the Disney Channel on Valentine's Day, 2011. With the discontinuance of Playhouse Disney the day prior, the block's mascots Ooh and Aah ended their four-year run and several older programs were entirely discontinued.
The Disney Junior channel was originally slated to debut in January 2012, but on July 28, 2011, the Disney-ABC Television Group pushed back the launch date from January to an unspecified date in late spring 2012, then setting the channel's launch date to February. On January 9, 2012, Disney-ABC Television Group announced that Soapnet's shutdown date for most providers was scheduled for March 22, 2012. Disney Junior's 24-hour cable channel counterpart officially launched the following day on March 23, at 12:00 a.m. Eastern Time with the Mickey Mouse Clubhouse episode "Mickey's Big Surprise" as the first program to air on the channel. Programming featured on the channel's initial lineup included Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse and freshman original series Doc McStuffins; the channel also launched a new short-form series A Poem Is... as well as the weekend movie block, the Magical World of Disney Junior.
Though it in effect took over the channel space held by Soapnet, an automated feed of that channel continued to exist for providers that had not yet reached agreements to carry Disney Junior (similar to other automated channel feeds that continued to operate during the transitions of Nickelodeon Games and Sports for Kids to The N (now TeenNick) and Fox Reality Channel to Nat Geo Wild), or held out so as to not lose subscribers due to the immediate loss of that network. These included some providers such as Cox Communications, Cablevision, DirecTV, Verizon FiOS and Time Warner Cable, which continued to carry Soapnet while having added the Disney Junior channel onto their channel lineups in turn. Soapnet's operations continued sixteen months later than had been originally planned, until the network officially shut down on December 31, 2013 at 11:59 p.m. Eastern Time.
Since its launch, Disney Junior became initially available to subscribers of Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon FiOS; Other providers would sign carriage agreements to run the network following its launch:
Programming on the Disney Junior channel includes original series (such as Doc McStuffins, Sofia the First, Goldie & Bear, and The Lion Guard), shows formerly seen on the now-defunct Playhouse Disney block (such as Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny and Little Einsteins), plus re-runs of former original shows (such as Jake and the Never Land Pirates and Sheriff Callie's Wild West) - including some that also air on the companion Disney Channel morning block and short-form series, as well as reruns of some older animated series that had previously been seen on sister network ABC, CBS (made prior to 1996) and programs from Disney Channel and Toon Disney, which are aired by the channel by popular demand (especially during the overnight graveyard slot).
Disney Junior Night Light is the Disney Junior channel's overnight programming block, running daily from 9:00 p.m. to 4:00 a.m. Eastern and Pacific Time. The block, which debuted on September 4, 2012 and is sponsored by Babble (under a similar underwriter sponsorship agreement as that regularly used by Disney Channel and Disney Junior, which both operate as commercial-free services), consists of short-form programs intended for co-viewing among parents and their children. Features seen as part of the block include Picture This (which presents sketches of Disney characters being drawn), Sesh Tales (a segment featuring costumed finger puppets with twists on traditional fairy tales) and That's Fresh (a segment featuring cooking tips aimed at parents, presented by celebrity chef Helen Cavallo). Additional series under development at the block's launch included a photography series, a series that follows parents through the day their new baby comes home after being born, and a show about stay-at-home dads. The block has been discontinued since 2017.
|Disney Junior HD||Disney Junior HD is a high definition simulcast of the Disney Junior channel that broadcasts in the 720p resolution format (the recommended HD format for the Disney-ABC Television Group's broadcast and cable properties). Most providers began carrying it upon Disney Junior's launch in most areas, and use a downscaled version to provide their standard definition feeds. DirecTV began carrying Disney Junior's HD feed on August 15, 2012.|
|Disney Junior On Demand||Disney Junior On Demand is the cable channel's video-on-demand service, offering select episodes of Disney Junior's original series. It is available to most digital cable and IPTV providers that carry the network.|
|Disney Junior App||Formerly known as "WATCH Disney Junior" until a June 2016 rebranding, the mobile app and digital media player viewing apps for Disney Junior offer live and on-demand streaming of Disney Junior content online. These apps require users to authenticate with a login from a participating television service provider for access to live video or the newest episodes of a series, though a limited selection of free episodes also are available without a login. The app closed on February 15, 2018.|
|DisneyNOW||On September 28, 2017, the Disney Channel app was relaunched as DisneyNOW, which combines the apps of Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD and Radio Disney into one universal app featuring access to all four services. The Disney Junior app was discontinued on February 15, 2018.|
|UK||Junior||Channel||Playhouse||May 7, 2011|
|Junior +1||Channel, time shift||Playhouse +1|
|USA||Junior||Block on Disney||Playhouse||February 14, 2011|
|Junior||Channel||Soapnet||March 23, 2012|
|Hungary||Junior||Block on Disney Channel (DC)||Playhouse||2011|
|Junior||Channel||Jr. Block on DC||2015|
|Romania||Junior||As a block on DC||Playhouse||June 1, 2011|
|Junior||As a channel||As a block on DC||March 1, 2012|
|Latin America||Junior||Channel (3 feeds)||Playhouse||April 1, 2011|
|Junior||Channel||N/A||December 1, 2015|
|Australia||Junior||Channel||Playhouse||May 29, 2011 |
|Middle East & North Africa||Junior||Channel||Playhouse||2011|
|Junior||Block on Disney||Playhouse||June 2011|
|South Africa||Junior||Channel||Playhouse||June 1, 2011|
|Netherlands and Flanders (Belgium)||Junior||Channel||Playhouse Disney||September 2011|
|Junior||Block on Disney||Playhouse Disney op Disney Channel||September 2011|
|Asia||Junior||Block||Playhouse||July 11, 2011|
|Hong Kong||Junior||Channel||Playhouse||July 11, 2011|
|Israel||Junior||Channel||TBA||July 18, 2011 (yes)
November 27, 2013 (HOT)
|Portugal||Junior||Block on Disney Channel (DC)||June 1, 2011|
|Junior||Channel||Disney Cinemagic||November 1, 2012|
|India||Junior||Channel, block on Disney (1.45 Hr.)||Playhouse||2011|
|Junior +1||Channel, time shift||Playhouse +1||2011|
|Taiwan||Junior||Channel||New channel||December 1, 2013|
|Russia||Узнавайка (Uznavayka)||Block on Disney Channel (Russia)||2010|
|Market||Name||Type||Formerly||Launch date||Discontinued date||Replaced by|
Canada operated by
|Junior||Channel||Playhouse||May 6, 2011||September 18, 2015||Family Jr.|
|Junior||Channel, French||Playhouse Disney Télé||Télémagino|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Disney Junior.|