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Disney is canceling SOAPnet in favor of new kids channel

May 26, 2010 |  4:17 pm

With soap operas going the way of land line telephones, Walt Disney Co. is pulling the plug on its cable channel SOAPnet.

In its place, Disney is launching a new kids channel that it says will target preschoolers and their parents. The network, dubbed Disney Junior, will make its debut in 2012. The competition is already tough in that arena. There is Viacom's Nick Jr., a sister channel to its powerful Nickelodeon network, and PBS Kids Sprout, which is controlled by cable giant Comcast Corp. and includes as partners HIT Entertainment, PBS and Sesame Workshop. Discovery is also launching the Hub in partnership with Hasbro. Turner has Cartoon Network, although it appeals to older kids.

In a statement, Disney Media Networks President Anne Sweeney blamed technology for the demise of SOAPnet.

"SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multi-platform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company."

In other words, what few soaps are left on broadcast television are being recorded by fans who no longer tune in to SOAPnet.

Disney Junior is Disney's latest push to rule the kids TV landscape. Last year, it launched Disney XD, a network aimed at young boys that has already found success. Disney said it will use its vast library of cartoons and movies as well as create new content for Disney Junior.

-- Joe Flint

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