Disney XD





LAUNCH DATE: February 13, 2009


OWNERSHIP: The Walt Disney Company 


DISTRIBUTION: More than 72 million homes.


DESCRIPTION: Disney XD, which replaced Toon Disney in the U.S., is a multi-platform brand that skews towards boys, yet is girl inclusive. Its content, which focuses on animated and live-action programming, as well as music, gaming and sports, is available on the linear channel, online, as well as on iTunes, Xbox 360, mobile phones, SVOD and more. Its mission is to help boys and girls feel empowered and confident in themselves.



President, Disney Channels Worldwide: Rich Ross

Senior VP, Marketing & Creative, Disney Channels Worldwide: Richard Loomis

President, Entertainment, Disney Channels Worldwide: Gary Marsh

Senior VP, Original Programming, Disney Channel: Adam Bonnett

Senior VP, Development, Walt Disney Television Animation: Eric Coleman

Senior VP, Programming Strategy, Disney Channels Worldwide: Paul DeBenedittis


PROGRAMMING STRATEGY: The Walt Disney Company was already operating successful TV services in the U.S. for childrenDisney Channel, whose mix of live action and animation targets kids 6-11, tweens and families, with a slight skew toward girls; the preschool Playhouse Disney block; and the predominantly animation-driven Jetix programming airing on the animation-focused Toon Disneywhen it decided to look into which entertainment options and what issues were important to young boys. Research conducted over the course of two years revealed that while watching TV is still the number one activity among boys, video games, both on consoles and online, drive their entertainment preferences, sportsas either participants or spectatorsis a core activity, and music is extremely important to them.


Researchers also found that despite the many channels available to them, boys felt there was a shortage of programming that connected to them and spoke to their interests.


Based on these findings, Disney management decided to rebrand Toon Disney and rename it Disney XD and created a destination for kids 6-14 with a specific skew toward boys 8-12. Disney XDs aim is to reach boys and girls and help them discover who they are and who they want to be through stories that convey a sense of achievement.


If you look at the channel, and its overall brand foundation, its very much based on the world of accomplishment and achievement, says Richard Loomis, the senior VP of marketing and creative at Disney Channels Worldwide. In gaming, sports and at school, boys are very much striving to get to the next leveldoing more, doing better, doing somthing as well, if not better, as their next door neighbor or best friend.


The core attributes of Disney XD, therefore, are determination, resilience, stretching oneself and reaching a goal, but emphasizing that the process is more important than the end result.


These values do not exclude girls, continues Loomis. All of these guys know that whether on their soccer team or in school they have girl best friends who are very much a part of their world. We have incorporated female characters within the stories of the shows and within the overall brand packaging.


All of Disney XDs content is, from the get-go, multiplatform. Gaming is central to all content on the channel, and the brand and the programming will have immersive online and mobile game experiences.


The channel has been well received. On its premiere weekend, February 13 to 16, Disney XD increased Toon Disneys viewership levels from the year before by double digits in total viewers and among kids 6 to 14. In the first quarter of 2009, compared to Toon Disneys average viewership during the first quarter of 2008, Disney XD showed gains in key demos: up by 10 percent in total viewers, up by 28 percent in kids 6 to 14 and by 19 percent in boys 6 to 14.


DisneyXD.com launched simultaneously with Disney XD. Elements of gaming and video extend the TV channel experience online. Visitors can create a 3-D avatar that represents them across the site. The 3-D avatars can be personalized so that they are unique to the player.  DisneyXD.com also offers a multitude of games, exclusive video and community elements to engage kids and deepen their connection to the DisneyXD brand and its programming. The website features Disney-branded and non-branded, single and multiplayer games with trophies and rewards being central to the overall experience. In an effort to support the channels programming, the site features shows and characters and engages visitors with rich content that connects them to the Disney XD brand. 


The original live-action series Aaron Stone exemplifies the multiplatform and gaming attributes of the channel. The series is about a champion video game player who, in a popular game called Hero Rising, uses a crime-fighting avatar named Aaron Stone, until the game’s billionaire creator asks him to become the real-life Aaron Stone.


Other shows on the channel include Kid vs. Kat, an animated comedy series about a space alien disguised as a cat and stranded on Earth. When a boy named Coop Burtonburger’s spoiled little sister, Millie, discovers the cat and brings him home, chaos ensues. The series was created by Rob Boutilier and is produced by Studio B Productions in Vancouver. 


Jimmy Two Shoes is an animated series featuring a thrill-seeking teenager who sets out to make Miseryville fun and exciting with the help of his two best friends, Heloise and Beezy. The series was created by Edward Kay and Sean Scott and is produced by Breakthrough Animation and Teletoon in Canada. There are also two short-form series, RoboDz, a 3-D, CG-animated and live-action comedy produced by Disney and Toei Animation in Japan, and Bruno the Great, an animated series produced by Studio Bozzetto & Co in Italy.


Disney XD is also sharing programming with Disney Channel. The animated series Phineas & Ferb, which has played to excellent ratings on Disney Channel, also airs on Disney XD, as does the live-action series The Suite Life of Zack & Cody.


Disney Channel is one of the biggest marketing supporters and promotional partners that Disney XD has, explains Loomis. Between the content that the two channels are sharing and the cross promotion, we are often asked if we are seeing any cannibalization in viewership, and the reality is, no we arent. In fact, Disney Channels ratings among boys are as healthy as ever.


Disney Channel XD is also getting cross-promotional support from ESPNs portfolio of services, which are also part of the Disney-ABC Television Group. Disney XD spots run on ESPN, ESPN 2 and several other ESPN channels, and also in ESPN Zone locations across the U.S. ESPN also helped DisneyXD.com acquire sports score ticker feeds to most major sports leagues.


Finally, music plays a key part of the channels offering. As opposed to music on Disney Channel, which has tween girls as its main target, music on Disney XD is more in line with boys tastes. 


For girls, music is a bit more about relationships and as a genre tends to be a little more pop, explains Loomis. In the world of Disney XD, music is much more in the rock-alternative-indie genre. As a first step, we feature some music videos, soundtracks and music within the programming. Longer term, we have a couple of series in development that really use music as a backdrop for the characters and stories that are part of that world.


WHATS NEW: The live-action comedy series Zeke and Luther is about two best friends who set their sights on becoming world famous skateboarders. The creators and executive producers are Matt Dearborn and Tom Burkhard, both of Disney Channel’s series Even Stevens. Filmed in HD format, Zeke and Luther is a production of Turtle Rock Productions.


Disney XD will be rolling out internationally. The service launches in France on April 1 and will premiere elsewhere on a country-by-country basis, especially in those markets where Jetix and Toon Disney channels are present.


WEBSITE: www.DisneyXD.com