Disney is making plans to expand its morning “Playhouse Disney” lineup into a full-time channel targeted at 2-7 year olds. Disney Junior will feature programming that includes existing Playhouse Disney properties Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Handy Manny, Jungle Junction, and Special Agent Oso, as well as brand new titles like Jake and the Never Land Pirates. Disney Junior will also showcase classic Disney films such as The Little Mermaid.
To make room for Disney Junior, the mouse house is shutting down SOAPnet, its 24-hour network dedicated to soap opera reruns. Created in 2000, SOAPnet was intended as a means to allow viewers to watch their favorite soaps at different times of the day — before DVRs made that same thing super-easy. Ten years later, Disney has found SOAPnet to be redundant.
For all intents and purposes, SOAPnet is being transformed into Disney Junior, as the new channel will use SOAPnet’s existing distribution to over 75 million homes.
Disney Junior will launch in 2012.