Andrew Wallenstein | Variety
While better known these days for removing channels, DirecTV announced Friday it is adding kiddie cabler Disney Junior to its programming lineup.
The addition has no bearing on DirecTV’s current standoff with Viacom, according to a spokesman for the satcaster, which saw the conglom yank 17 nets earlier this week due to a carriage dispute. But one of the eliminated nets, Nick Jr., targets the same audience as Disney Junior, as do some of the other Nickelodeon-branded properties.
Whether awarding the network a channel slot in the middle of the Viacom dispute is a coincidence or not, DirecTV could be sending a not-so-subtle message to the conglom that it has other programming options capable of serving audiences not being met by Viacom.
Viacom dispute: DirecTV adds Disney Junior to offset Nickelodeon loss
By BLOOMBERG NEWS
Photo credit: AP | A DirecTV satellite dish is attached to a roof at a home in Palo Alto, Calif. (May 6, 2010)
DirecTV’s 20 million customers, following the loss of Nickelodeon kids’ programming because of the satellite-TV provider’s dispute with Viacom Inc., will begin receiving the 24-hour Disney Junior channel Saturday.
Disney Junior, created by Walt Disney Co. to target viewers ages 2 to 7, will be permanently added to DirecTV’s lineup as a basic channel, according to a statement Friday from the companies. Disney Junior began last year as a daytime programming block within the Disney Channel, before becoming its own 24-hour station this year.
The move lets DirecTV bolster its children’s programming after blacking out Viacom’s 26 channels, including Nickelodeon kids’ shows such as “Dora the Explorer” and “SpongeBob SquarePants.” DirecTV dropped the programs just before midnight on July 10 following stalled negotiations over the fees that the satellite company pays for the shows.
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Disney Junior’s programs include cartoons and live-action shows, including “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “Handy Manny.” The channel also airs movies from Walt Disney Studios and its Pixar division.
The plan to add the channel was already in the works before the Viacom impasse, said Robert Mercer, a spokesman for El Segundo, California-based DirecTV, the largest U.S. satellite-TV provider. Even so, the deal mitigates the need for other kids’ channels, he said.
“Given the unsurpassed quality of Disney Junior’s family- friendly programming, there’s no reason to watch anything else,” he said in an email.