Disney Channel and sisterservice Disney XD will offer more originals this fall, with returning hits, specials and premieres.
Disney Channel will debut a one-hour special in October based on its popular Suite Life On Deck series. Meanwhile, its “Playhouse Disney” block and standalone channel Disney XD will step up original-programming efforts in the fall to better serve toddlers and young males, respectively, according to Paul DeBenedittis, senior vice president of programming strategy for Disney Channels Worldwide.
“This summer we had fantastic, multiple series and movies that connected with our kids, as well as talent that are emerging as superstars,” DeBenedittis said.
Disney averaged 2.9 million primetime viewers during the period of June 1 and Aug. 30, second only to USA Network's record-setting 3.6 million viewers for the summer. “We absolutely have to continue the momentum — we owe it to our audience and we have a fantastic plan,” he said.
Disney Channel's Oct. 2 special, Suite Life On Deck: Lost at Sea, is part of a week-long Suite Life programming stunt that will highlight special episodes of the series, which stars Dylan and Cole Sprouse (Zack and Cody Martin), Brenda Song (London Tipton) and Phill Lewis (Mr. Moseby).
Along with the Lost at Sea special, DeBenedittis said that the network will launch the new season of Wizards of Waverly Place in October with a monthlong series of new episodes, including a Halloween-themed show.
Wizards of Waverly Place the Movie, which aired Aug. 28, finished as the most watched show on cable during the summer as well as for the year, drawing more than 11 million viewers.
As for Playhouse Disney, DeBenedittis said the branded service for preschool kids will debut a primetime special based on the block's popular Handy Manny series as well as a preview of a new animated series running in the block.
The Handy Manny Motorcycle Adventure will debut Oct. 4 at 7 p.m. and will feature the voices of singers Kris Kristofferson and Donny Osmond, according to Playhouse Disney officials.
Immediately following the Handy Manny special, Disney will preview its new animated series Jungle Junction, which follows a group of environmentally conscious, automobile-traveling animals as they explore a unique jungle. The series will debut on Playhouse Disney the next morning.
Disney XD, which set network records for summer viewership among total viewers (327,000), and its target boys 6-to-14 demo (104,000), will launch Skyrunners, its first ever original movie in November, according to DeBenedittis.
The sci-fi teleflick Skyrunners, stars Aaron Stone leadKelly Blatz as a teen trying to save his brother, who has been kidnapped by aliens bent on taking over the world.
Along with original films, the network — formerly Toon Disney — will also launch a new music-based, live-action comedy series in November dubbed I'm In the Band.
The network will also premiere new episodes of Disney Channel hit animated series Phineas and Ferb, including a Christmas-themed special.
“Disney XD was just on fire from the moment we launched XD back in February and continued in the summer,” he said. “With the new series I'm In the Band, a movie event [Skyrunners], and a Christmas-themed special for Phineas and Ferb, Disney XD should continue its momentum.”
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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.