Cable TV has long been Disney’s biggest business.
Since 1996 the Disney Channel has created more than fifty original shows for pre-schoolers, kids and tweens.
Some have been huge hits, turning their stars into household names.
Think high-school-set comedy Evens Stevens, which, at the turn of the century, made a name for Shia LaBeouf, Hannah Montana, which boosted Miley Cyrus to stardom, and Jonas, a traditional sitcom with a live studio audience starring The Jonas Brothers.
Sister channel Freeform, which changed its name from ABC Family in January 2016, has a different target audience——teenagers and young adults.
Freeform’s notable successes include teen drama and mystery thriller Pretty Little Liars, which ran for seven seasons, and the currently airing Famous in Love.
But in recent years the Disney Channel has picked a number of duds, that haven’t worked with its target audience.
I Didn’t Do It premiered in 2015.
Surrounding a group of friends during their freshman year at high school, episodes began with comedic “what just happened” scenarios, followed by a story being told in flashbacks.
It didn’t catch-on, and the following year the show was axed.
Another short-lived show during the same period was Best Friends Whenever, about time-travelling best friends—another series that only managed two series.
Freeform too has suffered a spate of cancelled shows, some of which were darker than previous offerings on the channel…
Guilt about an American college student living in London, who becomes the prime suspect in her roommates gruesome murder.
And Dead of Summer, a retro-chiller set at a summer camp in the eighties.
Disney Channel and Freeform are confident that their new slate of shows will lift ratings.
While Freeform’s target audience is young women, it’s now going after young men too, and next season will debut Cloak and Dagger it’s first big-budget show from sister unit Marvel—about two teenagers who acquire superpowers.
It’ll also debut The Bold Type about life at a fashion magazine.
In the meantime…
Disney Channel is betting on Raven’s Home, a spinoff of its hit That’s So Raven, about two divorced mothers, one who’s child has inherited the same psychic abilities as his mom.
It also has a sequel to its smash original movie Descendants