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Disney Channel (UK and Ireland)

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Title: Disney Channel (UK and Ireland)  
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Disney Channel (UK and Ireland)

Disney Channel
Launched 1 October 1995 (independent channel)
Owned by Disney–ABC Television Group
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audience share 0.3%
0.1% (+1) (September 2014 (2014-09), BARB)
Country United Kingdom
Headquarters Chiswick, London
Formerly called The Disney Channel
(until 1 March 1997)
Sister channel(s) Disney Junior
Disney XD
Timeshift service Disney Channel +1
Sky Channel 609 (SD/HD)
Channel 610 (+1)
Channel 631 (SD)
Virgin Media Channel 724
Channel 725 (+1)
TV Choice On Demand
UPC Ireland Channel 613
Channel 633 (HD)
TalkTalk Plus TV Channel 555
BT Channel 555
Streaming media
Sky Go Watch live
(UK and Ireland only)
Virgin TV Anywhere Watch live (UK only)
UPC Horizon Watch live (Ireland only)
Now TV Watch live (UK only)

Disney Channel is a kids and teen's entertainment channel available in the United Kingdom and Ireland since 1 October 1995. A one hour timeshift service called Disney Channel +1 is available on Sky and Virgin Media. Disney Channel currently has two sister channels; Disney Junior, Disney XD.


Disney Channel was originally planned to launch in 1989 on the newly launched Sky satellite service. It was featured in much of the promotional material surrounding the launch of Sky Television and the Astra satellite as a block channel. Its joint venture with Sky collapsed May 1989. The discussion about the venture had been taking place since November 1988, but Disney felt it was no longer on equal footing on "decision-making responsibility" in 50-50 partnership. Disney was supposed to start up two channels, but when the talks broke down, Sky issued a lawsuit against Disney, claiming £1.5 billion in damages.[1][2] The suit was later settled with Disney selling its stake in the joint venture back to Sky, and agreeing to licence its movie library for a five-year period.[3]

In 1994, Disney Channel closed as a block for independence.

Super RTL launched in Germany on 1995, as a joint venture between Disney and the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (or CLT, formally the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion, or CLR). Disney finally launched in the UK on the BSKYB on 1 October 1995, as the first Disney Channel in Europe.[4]

In 1997, Disney Channel adopted a new Mickey Mouse head shape logo. The idents mainly used red and blue colors on irregularly shaped objects that formed the logo.

On 1 May 1999, another new logo was launched, with three symmetrical circles forming the iconic Mickey Mouse head shape.

On 29 September 2000, Disney Channel launched two sister channels, a preschool-oriented Playhouse Disney (now known as Disney Junior) and the now-defunct 24-hour cartoon channel Toon Disney (Which eventually got replaced with Disney Cinemagic which itself became Sky Movies Disney). A one hour timeshift of Disney Channel also launched on the same day. All 3 were only available to Sky subscribers. NTL and Telewest customers could only receive the main Disney Channel. On all platforms, the Disney Channel package was a premium offering, requiring an additional subscription fee in order to view, though Sky subscribers could receive the channels for free if they also subscribed to the full Sky Movies package (aka Sky Movies World, with contained 4 Sky Premier channels, 5 Sky MovieMax channels and 2 Sky Cinema channels). Despite the launch of Playhouse Disney, Disney Channel continued to air a block of Playhouse Disney-branded preschool programmes during school mornings, although in later years was greatly reduced. On 15 March 2003 a new logo and graphics were introduced.

In early 2006, Sky and Disney were locked in ongoing negotiations over a new contract for carriage on the former's digital satellite television service. The previous, ten-year deal, which was inked while Sky floated on the stock exchange in 1994, was temporarily extended whilst both sides attempted to reach an agreement. Sky was understood to have been seeking a substantially reduced payment towards the kids broadcaster. A new agreement, reported to be worth £130 million a year, was reached on 27 February 2007. As a result, on 16 March, changes were made to the Disney services in the UK. Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney ceased to be premium add-on channels and instead operated as part of basic-level subscription packages (such as Sky's "Kids Mix".) A new premium service, subscription channel Disney Cinemagic, was launched to take the Disney slot in the Sky Movies premium bundle; Toon Disney was replaced with Cinemagic, Toon closed at 6:00am and Cinemgaic launched at 10:00am. Disney Channel's main one-hour timeshift, Disney Channel +1 closed for 3 months and was replaced with Disney Cinemagic +1. However, Disney Channel +1 subsequently returned on 26 June 2006.

On 27 October 2006, Disney Channel was added to Top Up TV Anytime, a service that downloads programming overnight from various channels to a Thomson DTI 6300-16. In 2007, Disney added more VoD content to Virgin Media's Service. On 22 November 2007 it was announced Disney Channel would join the lineup for Picnic, BSkyB's proposed new pay-TV service for DTT.

It began broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen on 14 May 2010. A new set of program mini-idents that would play before the program would start were launched on 11 September 2010. On 1 September 2011 a new logo was adopted and another version was carried out in fall 2012. On 15 September 2011 an HD version launched on Sky.[5]

On 1 June 2012, Disney Channel updated their television format to the format used for Disney Channel's USA network, with the premiere of the Disney Channel Original Movie, Radio Rebel. The new format included a refreshed logo and new bumpers and promo layouts. In July 2013, a new website was launched with On Demand services and advertisements started to air.


Disney Channel has an interactive television service on Sky, in which viewers are able to press the red button on their Sky remote to access information about TV series, character profiles, detailed TV listings, quizzes, and hundreds of messages submitted by viewers. The interactive service also includes links to a small selection of games. Some can be played as 'overlay' games, with the channel video continuing in the background; others are accessible via a link to a Disney-branded section of BSkyB's Sky Games interactive service. The overlay games are developed by Pushbutton and French game developers Visiware. The interactive service was designed and built by Pushbutton, and went live in September 2007 and was taken off in September 2011 [6] replacing the old service created by Tamblin. Previously, Disney Channel also had a Teletext service, consisting of about 200 pages, known as Disney Text.

Disney Channel used to be translated in British Sign Language on its late evening programming.

Live presentation

Live presentation was an important feature of Disney Channel with the best known example of this as Disney Channel UK Live, which was launched in September 1997 and later relaunched as Studio Disney on 1 May 1999. Presenters included: Nigel Mitchell, Emma Lee, Leah Charles, Jean Anderson, Mark Rumble, Amy Garcia, Ollie from Freefaller, James McCourt, Jemma James (now Jemma Forte). Studio Disney ran on weekdays, usually from 16:00 to 19:00, in direct competition with similar services offered by CBBC, CITV and Nickelodeon. The show featured a team of between two and six presenters who came on air between programmes, giving viewers the opportunity to call in, interact and win prizes. Studio Disney also produced many of its own short programmes, including Wish Upon a Star and Junior Journo, which were aired during the block itself and between programmes at other times. Studio Disney bowed out on 1 July 2005, in line with the disappearance of afternoon in-vision presentation on CITV and Nickelodeon the previous year and leaving the channel with a format similar to that of its American counterpart.

The live presentation of the show would also run competitions in which viewers could win holidays, and other prizes. Special holiday competitions would be run, New Year, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Chinese New Year, Christmas, etc. For instance, a Mother's Day Competition of 2003 involved Emma Lee surprising four entrants and their mothers to a special get-away. Meanwhile, a Father's Day - Competition of 2004 involved James McCourt and Nigel Mitchell treating one lucky dad to a day at Silverstone Grand Prix track.

At other times of the day, prerecorded presentations were used, typically recorded in such a manner that viewers would believe that it was live. An example of this was the breakfast segment Up (later called Zoom!), which was hosted out-of-vision by Capital Disney presenter and managing director Will Chambers. Another example originated from the Monster March event that ran throughout March 2002, during which the schedule featured many monster-themed shows and movies. Prerecorded sketches featuring a Mexican dinosaur puppet named Raoul were inserted between programmes, and as this proved popular, Raoul was given a number of his own segments on the channel over the next few years, including The Raoul Show, Good Morning Raoul and The Raoul Summer. The best sketches from The Raoul Show would later be made into a series of short programmes entitled The Best of Raoul. Raoul was even the subject of a question on the 20th Anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Disney Channel also held an annual awards ceremony called the Disney Channel Kids Awards. The categories were centred around music, sport, television and film. The winners in each category were voted for by viewers online. The ceremonies, hosted by Studio Disney presenters, were held at The Royal Albert Hall and London Arena. These were broadcast on Disney Channel and Channel 5 and featured performances from popular music artists such as Girls Aloud.


Disney Channel's website features information, games, interactive features and contact details and submission forms. The site has been made entirely in Adobe Flash since 1 May 1999, the same day as the 1999 re-brand. In May 2003, it was completely redesigned to fit with the other Disney Channel's worldwide after the global re-brand. In 2007 it was added to, when the website's homepage was revamped to fit the look of the American site. In 2011, along with the other Disney sites, it was revamped. in September 2011, it was revamped once again, due to the new logo.

Sister networks

Disney XD

Disney XD is aimed primarily at male pre-teens and teenagers 6–14 years of age, its programming consists of original first-run television series, current and former original series and made-for-cable films from sister network Disney Channel, theatrically-released movies, and live-action and animated programs from other distributors.

Disney Junior

Disney Junior (formerly known as Playhouse Disney[1]) is pre school kids channel. The channel launched on 29 September 2000 as Playhouse Disney, the same day as the now defunct sister channel, Toon Disney.

Sky Movies Disney

Defunct Sister networks

Disney Cinemagic

Toon Disney


Disney Channel services

  • iTunes

The channel regularly updates its iTunes library with the latest episodes. Some of these are available in HD.

Disney Channel programmes

Most watched episodes

The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on Disney Channel in the UK, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 27 May 2013.[7] The number of viewers does not include repeats.
Rank Series title Episode title No. of Viewers Date
1 Hannah Montana Wherever I Go 621,000 27 May 2011
2 Good Luck Charlie Special Delivery 602,000 12 October 2012
3 Wizards of Waverly Place The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex 575,000 24 May 2013
4 The Suite Life on Deck Break Up in Paris 543,000 9 January 2011
5 Wizards of Waverly Place Wizards Exposed 535,000 18 February 2011
6 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Summer of Our Discontent 531,000 21 September 2007
7 Wizards of Waverly Place Wizards Unleashed/Puppy Love (UK) 521,000 29 October 2010
8 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Graduation 513,000 21 September 2007
9 The Suite Life on Deck Lost at Sea 513,000 21 February 2010
10 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Sink or Swim 488,000 21 September 2007


Disney Channel traditionally broadcast most of its movies, including Walt Disney Studios movies and Disney Channel Original Movies, on the main channel. These were usually shown daily at 7pm under The Wonderful World of Disney (earlier The Magical World of Disney) brand. On weekends, the channel would show at least three movies per a day. The Saturday Movie Showdown took place every Saturday morning, wherein viewers were invited to vote for one of a selection of three movies on the channel's website, the winner being aired in the 11am slot. Starting in 2003, Latterly, a movie was transmitted in widescreen with Dolby Digital Surround Sound on Sundays at 4pm - much of the channel's other content was in 4:3 at this time.

However, when Disney Cinemagic launched in March 2006, The Wonderful World of Disney and the Sunday widescreen movie were axed, and all Walt Disney Studios movies were moved over to the new channel, such that they can remain as a premium add-on. However, Disney Channel Original Movies are still broadcast regularly on Disney Channel, with premieres of new ones shown on Friday evenings a short while after their premiere in the US (usually a few weeks, though in some cases, such as Full Court Miracle and Tiger Cruise, the delay can be up to several years - the latter, which had its US premiere in 2004, has [as of 2012] never been aired in the UK). As a result of these changes, movies are now shown more frequently across Disney's channels overall, and non-Cinemagic subscribers can now see Disney Channel Original Movies. In December 2009 it was announced the Disney Channel UK was going to premiere two movies in that month; Den Brother and 16 Wishes, which is very rare for Disney Channel. This happened again in September 2011, with the premieres of Lemonade Mouth and Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension. The most recent movies to premiere were Cloud 9 on 28 February 2014 and Zapped on 18 July 2014. But the latest premiered on 19th September 2014, How To Build a Better boy

Most watched films

The following is a list of the five most watched movies on Disney Channel, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 31 December 2013.[7] The number of viewers does not include repeats.
Rank Movie title No. of Viewers


1 High School Musical 2 1,336,000 21 September 2007
2 Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie 1,044,000 21 October 2009
3 High School Musical 835,000 22 September 2006
4 The Suite Life Movie 780,000 17 February 2012
5 Starstruck 683,000 14 May 2010
6 Teen Beach Movie 597,000 19 July 2013
7 Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas! 562,000 16 December 2011
8 Let It Shine 551,000 20 July 2012
9 Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension 533,000 30 September 2011
10 Sharpay's Fabulous Adventure 473,000 27 May 2011


In October 1995, the Disney Channel in the UK's logo was a simplified Mickey Mouse head, with 'The Disney Channel' text on the bottom. Six idents for the 1995 logo were created by Lambie-Nairn. In February 1997, the channel dropped 'The' from its name, with a new splat logo, for the launch of Disney Channel France. In March 1997, Disney Channel France adopted the same logo and idents. In May 1999, Disney Channel refreshed its identity as it launched its new Circles logo, with symmetrical circles forming the iconic Mickey Mouse head shape. The new ident set was created in CGI animation, with various objects forming the Disney Channel logo. The new identity package was created by French graphic design company, GÉDÉON. According to GÉDÉON, the new logo is also described as an "experimental field for animation".[8] More than 30 illustrators, animators, graphic designers, directors, and motion graphic studios, such as Gamma Studios, Estructura7, Velvet mediendesign, and Pedall, collaborated with the project.[9]

When the new look was first launched, nine idents air on the same day. Some of the idents were also used in its sister channels, Playhouse Disney and Toon Disney.

  • On March 2000, Disney Channel France, did a contest called Les Grands Prix De L'imagination, suggesting ideas on making logos for the channel.
  • On March 2003, Disney Channel adapted a new logo used by Disney Channel in US. The idents and bumpers were created by CA Square.
  • On September 2011, Disney Channel adapted the new European smartphone app logo.
  • On June 2012, Disney Channel adapted the new smartphone app logo from the US.
  • On July 2013, Disney Channel began airing advertisement breaks, meaning some shows would be around half an hour long or more, as opposed to previously 25 minutes.
  • On 18 July 2014, Disney Channel adapted the current US logo and on-air graphics.



  1. ^ Richard W. Stevenson (May 16, 1989). "Murdoch Broadcast Concern Sues Disney". The New York Times. 
  2. ^ "Number 2043". SWEDEN CALLING DXERS. 16 May 1989. 
  3. ^ Kathyrn Harris (June 3, 1989). "Disney Settles Fraud Suit With Murdoch's News Corp.". The Los Angeles Times. 
  4. ^ "Walt Disney International Television Names Disney Channel-UK Executives". The Free Library. 
  5. ^ "Selena Gomez marks Disney Channel HD launch". Digital Spy. 6 July 2011. 
  6. ^ "Pushbutton creates interactivity for Disney Channel UK". 
  7. ^ a b BARB, via [1]]
  8. ^ GÉDÉON - Disney Channel Corporate Design 1999
  9. ^ Broadcast Now : Disney Channel UK launches autumn schedule and new idents

External links

  • Official website
  • Disney Channel at TV Ark
  • Disney Channel in the UK's YouTube account
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