As we near the end of summer, Disney Channel is slated for a historic ranking as the #1 cable net in total day in total viewers. For the 1st summer ever, the net will rank as the #1 net in kids 2-11. CableFAX spoke with Disney Worldwide’s Paul DeBenedittis, svp, programming, scheduling, multiplatform, acquisitions and co-productions, on upcoming programs and the market of children’s TV.
Disney has done really well this summer. What should we expect in terms of fall programming?
We don’t focus on seasons or cycles as we program for our audience 365 days a year. We have a series premiere (“Dog With A Blog”), a Disney Channel Original Movie (“Girl Vs. Monster”) and an original event (“Make Your Mark: Shake It Up Dance Off”) this fall, as well as new episodes of our hit Disney Channel series (“Jessie,” “Austin & Ally,” “Good Luck Charlie,” “Shake It Up” and “A.N.T. Farm” and our animated hits “Phineas and Ferb” and “Gravity Falls”) — and we also have a volume of new content across our multiplex including Disney Junior (“Sofia the First,” “Doc McStuffins,” “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”) and Disney XD (“Crash and Bernstein,” “Lab Rats,” “Kickin’ It”).
You have been in cable for two decades. People say now is the Golden Age for cable. Do you agree? And why? Is now also the Golden Age for children’s TV?
I felt I was in the Golden Age when I first started and I feel the same way today. Cable allows us a unique opportunity to connect with our audience in a branded, connected way, 24/7. The Golden Age continues as we now have more platforms to serve viewers, more opportunities to find creative ways to fuel our brands, to connect to our audience in engaging and entertaining ways, while at the same time maximizing and monetizing these opportunities so we can continue doing it.
What challenges do children’s TV providers face and how can they overcome those challenges?
I’m not so sure the challenges are much different than general entertainment, where I spent most of my career before coming to Disney. We are always looking to stay connected and relevant with our audience as new technology emerges. We are always looking for creative ways to tell stories that are unique and strategies that evolve as our audience evolves and their taste shifts. Most of all, we respect our young viewers, we know they’re smart and just as savvy as their parents were when they were kids.