Disney, Lifetime Seek Q3 Gains

Two channels backed by The Walt Disney Co. unveiled their summer programming lineups, with the hope of heating up third-quarter ratings.

Looking to take advantage of summer vacation time from school, Disney Channel will debut several new shows and animated movies targeting kids and tweens, while Lifetime Television, a 50/50 venture of Disney and Hearst Corp., will seek to reach young women with new original movies and specials.

Tween-targeted fare on Disney Channel includes animated series The Buzz on Maggie and live-action comedy Naturally, Sadie. On the original movie front, Disney will bow two new live-action titles, Go Figure and Life is Ruff, as well as a full-length movie for its animated series The Proud Family.

The service will also bow new episodes of such shows as That’s So Raven, Phil of the Future, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody, The Proud Family and Kim Possible.

Along with the new programming, Disney Channel said it will unveil a new brand-image campaign that will tout the network’s ability to build strong emotional connections with kids and tweens through its characters. The campaign, featuring a series of short comedic vignettes, showcases Disney Channel stars living among regular families.

“If you put together the movies, the new original series, new animated series, three interstitial series and an interstitial campaign, it’s really a nice push for summer,” said Disney Channel Worldwide president Rich Ross.

The network is hoping to improve on the 5% decline in household ratings it sustained during third quarter 2004.

“We did not do as well as I wanted to last summer, partly because we didn’t use the summer to aggressively launch new programming,” Ross said.

Lifetime, which endured an 11% decline to a 1.6 third-quarter primetime household rating average in 2004, is hoping to boost viewership through its new summer lineup, which includes both new original movies and returning scripted staples.

The network in July will bow Beach Girls, a six-hour dramatic miniseries starring Rob Lowe. Original movies include cyber seduction: His Secret Life; Murder In the Hamptons; The Dive From Clausen’s Pier; and Fighting the Odds: The Marilyn Gambrell Story.

In June, Lifetime will also return scripted series Strong Medicine for a sixth season and Missing for a third turn, said network executives.

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.