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MAR
22
2 YEARS

Disney Junior Launches on Friday; SOAPnet to Continue on Some Carriers

UPDATED: The new 24-hour network is aimed at kids ages two to seven years old.

Disney Junior Cake - P 2012
DISNEY JUNIOR/RICHARD HARBAUGH

Come Friday, some viewers will say goodbye SOAPnet, hello Disney Junior.

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After the Disney/ABC Television Group announced in 2010 that SOAPnet will go off the air, the day is finally upon us. The 12-year-old network will be replaced by Disney Junior, a 24-hour network aimed at kids ages two to seven years old and their families, on Friday.

But that doesn't mean SOAPnet will go away for all viewers. A Disney/ABC TV Group spokesperson explains that it currently has carriage agreements with Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House Networks and Verizon for Disney Junior and those affiliates will also continue to carry SOAPnet.

"We view the launch of Disney Junior as a transition, not a flip of a switch," a Disney/ABC TV Group spokesperson tells The Hollywood Reporter. "And as such SOAPnet will remain available for an undetermined period of time as deals are finalized with distributors."

SOAPnet has carried encore presentations of All My Children, General Hospital, One Life to Live, and The Young and the Restless, as well as the series Beverly Hills, 90210, Veronica Mars and One Tree Hill. It also airs the Canadian series, Being Erica, which has found quite a following in the U.S., and it's unclear if its new season will air on SOAPnet or another American channel.

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The network’s ratings peaked in 2008-2009 with a primetime average of 353,000 viewers. In the past three months, that average is now only 185,000, according to Ad Age. Clearly, the Walt Disney Co. is hoping the change will get higher ratings.

Disney Junior, which currently exists as a programming block on Disney Channel, will feature learning-focused programming created with academic experts over several disciplines encouraging social and emotional development and cognitive skills.

This year, the programming block grew 28 percent among kids two to five, 39 percent among Boys two to five, 16 percent among Girls two to five and 12 percent among Women 18-49.

Its programming includes Jake and the Never Land Pirates, Doc McStuffins, Little Einsteins, and Handy Manny. It also airs movies such as Toy Story 2 and Beauty and Beast during its The Magical World of Disney Junior series.

Note: This article has been updated with Disney/ABC TV Group's carriage agreement details.

Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro