Friday, March 15, 2013

The Channel of Mouse

This is a wee bit startling.

... Disney Channels Worldwide — which operates Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior — has succeeded in introducing young audiences to the company’s iconic characters for the first time, or to new franchises that make them loyal to Mickey and friends for years to come.

“Disney Channel has become the biggest franchise grower for the company worldwide,” Jay Rasulo, the Walt Disney Co.’s chief financial officer, said last fall at the Bank of America/Merrill Lynch Media, Communications and Entertainment Conference in Beverly Hills. “It used to be (film) animation, but the amount of time kids spend in front of the TV and
Web devices (and) mobile devices (watching) the Disney Channel make this an incredibly powerful vehicle.” ...

I was a Disney employee when the Disney Channel was launched.

Back in the early eighties, the Channel was much derided by Disney employees:

"It'll never work." ... "It shows nothing but crap. Who wants to watch Mickey cartoons and old episodes of Zorro?" ... "How can the studio produce enough material for a cable channel?" ... "Who do they think they're kidding?" etc.

People all over the lot were pitching and selling ideas for shows. The Channel was taking lots of odd stuff. Just so long as it didn't cost much to produce, things could get on. Welcome to Pooh Corner, one of the first originals made for the Disney Channel, was made for next to nothing on a small Hollywood sound stage, where two half-hour shows were cranked out each week.

One hundred twenty episodes were produced in three years.

And Tim Burton made a cheapie version of Hansel and Gretel (taking a break from his animation duties) that aired on the channel once. This small epic cost slightly more than $100,000 and has been pretty thoroughly buried for thirty years.

But what most tickles me is, the Disney Channel, this powerhouse driver of corporate profits, wasn't launched by Hollywood hotshot Michael Eisner, but by Ron Miller, who launched the Channel mere months before being overthrown the the Bass brothers in a 1984 coup.

Small irony, yes?


Christopher Sobieniak said...

I miss what the channel use to be Steve, here's a sample!

These days it's all obnoxious tweeners being selfish and over-their-heads as I see it, but if that's what sells it these days.

Site Meter