More Animated Disney Series to Air on ABC

In an attempt to reach more tween viewers and extend its brand beyond cable, Disney Channel last week said it would run two more of its original series on sister network ABC, starting this fall.

The Disney animated series —The Proud Family
and Kim Possible
— will air as part of the broadcast network's "Disney's One Saturday Morning" block, possibly as soon as September, according to Disney Channel president of entertainment Rich Ross.

Kim Possible, about a high school-aged female superhero, has yet to premiere on Disney Channel, but The Proud Family
is one of the network's biggest hits with its target audience of tweens.

The animated comedy about an African-American family is averaging a 1.3 household rating, season-to-date, through May 5, according to Nielsen Media Research. But its ratings more than double among tween viewers aged 9 to 14 (to a 3.5 rating) and kids aged 6 to 14 (a 3.3).

Ross said both The Proud Family
and Kim Possible
should attract a sizable audience to ABC's Saturday-morning lineup, and help to extend the network's brand beyond Disney Channel cable viewers.

The shows will join the popular Disney Channel original series Lizzie McGuire
and Even Stevens
on "Disney's One Saturday Morning." Since they began on the block last September, both series have performed well. McGuire
has been stronger, though, averaging a 1.6 household rating and a 2.9 and a 2.8 among tweens and kids 6 to 14, respectively.

Both Disney and ABC will have more competition for tween eyeballs in the broadcast arena next season. NBC, Fox and CBS will all revamp their Saturday-morning blocks to reach out to older kids.

Discovery Kids will program a three-hour block for NBC, slating kid- and tween-targeted versions of such Discovery Networks U.S.-oriented programming as Walking With Dinosaurs, Walking With Prehistoric Beasts, Junkyard Wars
and Crocodile Hunter. Fox, meanwhile, will hand over four hours of its Saturday-morning airtime to 4Kids Entertainment.

And Nickelodeon recently said it would replace several of the shows from Nickelodeon's "Nick Jr." block now running on CBS with older-skewing fare like As Told by Ginger
and The Wild Thornberrys, to attract more 6-to-11-year-olds.

Many operators aren't happy that cable-branded shows are airing on broadcast networks. During a panel session at the National Show last week examining programming costs, Cox Communications Inc. executive vice president of operations Patrick Esser did not criticize the trend toward repurposing certain programming.

But Esser takes exception when exclusive-to-cable programming, like Nickelodeon's Blues Clues,
winds up on a sister broadcast network.

"When Blues Clues
becomes that big, I'm happy," Esser said. "But when they make it part of the CBS Saturday-morning block, I stop smiling. That's where they crossed the line with me."

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.