Disney Junior to Make DirecTV Debut on July 14

Disney Junior will take a major step forward on the affiliate front with its launch on DirecTV.

The service, which originated and continues as daytime block on Disney Channel in 2011 before launching as a 24/7 service aimed at kids 2 to 7 and their parents/caregivers in March, will make its DirecTV debut tomorrow, July 14.

Disney Junior will be positioned on channel 289, displacing the NASA Channel. The network, which features Walt Disney Pictures and Pixar theatricals, as well as such original series as Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Little Einsteins and Special Agent Oso, is just located ahead of the East and West Coast feeds of Disney Channel at 290 and 291 and Disney XD at 292. Deal terms were not disclosed.

Whether coincidental or not, the basic launch comes as the nation's No. 2 provider remains in a carriage dispute with Viacom, whose 17-channel roster, includes Disney competitor Nickelodeon and its spinoff services. Those networks were pulled from DirecTV on July 11.

With its bow on DirecTV, Disney Junior will count some 55 million subscribers. Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Bright House Networks, Verizon FiOS and Cablevision carried the network at launch last March, before it reached a carriage contract with the National Cable Television Cooperative the following month.

"When it comes to children and families, nobody has the tremendous programming to compare with Disney," Derek Chang, executive vice president of content strategy and development at DirecTV, said in a statement. "Our customers have been clamoring for us to add Disney Junior since they first heard about the concept, and DirecTV is happy to place our trust in Disney as a partner in building this exciting new family service."

Noted David Preschlack, executive vice president, Disney & ESPN affiliate sales and marketing: "We are pleased to reach this agreement with DirecTV to provide Disney Junior's high quality, valuable and family-friendly programming to their customers. We know parents are passionate about having top quality television options for their families, and now millions will be able to watch outstanding preschool programming on a 24/7 channel unlike any other on television."

Originally, the game plan called for Disney Junior to replace SoapNet. However, that service, which eventually will sunset, continues to hold its channel position on most affiliates.