Toon Disney Spruces Up Big Movie Show

Eyeing a further ratings boost for its most popular programming block, Toon Disney has begun rolling out a mix of new and old high-profile films for its Big Movie Show franchise.

Among the titles this fall are Dumbo and the network premiere of Bambi II, as well as the inclusion of a number of perennials in the block during the upcoming holiday season.

Running weekdays from 5 p.m.-7 p.m., the block has built ratings for the service since its November 2004 debut. During its first year, the block increased 9% with girls 2-11 (to a 1.2 average), 11% with kids 6-11 (1.0) and 43% with girls 6-11 (1.0), according to Nielsen Media Research data. Ratings momentum has continued in 2006 with a 13% jump among girls 2-11 (to a 1.2) and a 14% rise with among boys 6-11 (0.8)

“We do share movie windows with Disney Channel and Cartoon Network,” Disney Channel senior vice president of programming Scott Garner said. “But we’re the only kids’ channel with an afternoon block of animated movies. A lot of others are running strips of live-action or anime in the afternoon.”

The network hopes its latest initiative will continue the ratings upswing.

“This past fall, we began taking a look at ways to improve the block,” Garner said. “Starting in November, we wanted to take some of the stronger titles and roll them out and strengthen the channel as a whole by offering new titles.”

The initiative kicked off Nov. 3 with the network premiere of Bambi II. The direct-to-DVD movie delivered a 1.5 rating among kids 2-11, up from a 1.3 in the corresponding time period in 2005.

The Country Bears followed Nov. 4, delivering a 1.6 rating among kids 2-11, a 129% increase from 0.7 the previous year for the same time period.

Next in line: the Dec. 9 debut of animated movie Snow Dogs. Moreover, in the cases where the movies don’t fill the full programming block, Toon Disney will run new episodes of such series as Lilo & Stitch (Dec. 18) and American Dragon: Jake Long (Dec. 19).

After Thanksgiving, the network will trot out Alice in Wonderland, Tarzan, Return to Neverland and Atlantis: The Lost Empire.

Beginning Dec. 14, the network is running its Twelve Days of Christmas stunt, featuring a different movie every night, including Mickey's Once Upon a Christmas, Mickey's Twice Upon a Christmas and Mickey's Magical Christmas: Snowed in at the House of Mouse.