Johnny and the Sprites Debuts Well

Disney Channel said new series Johnny and the Sprites debuted Jan. 13 with 1 million viewers in the target audience of kids aged 2-5, the second-highest debut for a Playhouse Disney preschool show after Handy Manny last fall.

Johnny, a live-action series featuring musical numbers and puppets, was basic cable’s most-watched program in the 10 a.m.-10:30 a.m. period Saturday by kids 2-5 (1 million/6.3 rating), surpassing runner-up Nick by 33% (752,000/4.8 rating), Disney said, citing Nielsen Media Research figures.

The show -- starring John Tartaglia of Broadway musical Avenue Q -- performed 136% better in the target audience than whatever Disney ran in that slot one year ago. The network said Johnny had 2.2 million total viewers, 83% better than the time slot one year ago.

Altogether, Disney aired four of the top five TV programs among kids aged 2-5 with back-to-back telecasts of Mickey Mouse Clubhouse from 9 a.m.-10 a.m., Johnny and the Sprites and Little Einsteins.

For the week of Jan. 8-14, Playhouse Disney series Johnny and the Sprites and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse were TV’s top two programs (broadcast and basic cable) in the 2-5 category, with 893,000 viewers and a 5.6 rating and 717,000 viewers and a 4.5 rating, respectively, according to Disney, citing Nielsen.