SYDNEY — The Walt Disney Company’s preschool channel, Playhouse Disney, is to be rebranded Disney Junior in Australia and New Zealand from May 29, Disney’s president of global distribution Ben Pyne announced this week.
Disney is rolling out the Disney Junior brand worldwide and Australia and N.Z. are the next markets to take the service, following the rebranding already undertaken in the U.S. and the U.K.
With the rebranding comes a slight shift in programming strategy: the target age has widened from two to five to two to seven, all programming will have specific development and learning themes and have a nod to Disney’s heritage.
At the same time said Pyne, “the name Playhouse Disney didn’t grab as well as having Disney up front.”
The new channel will launch here May 29, with flagship shows, Jake and the NeverLand Pirates, Special Agent Oso shorts and Disney Poetry Shorts to premiere.
For parents and carers the Disney Junior brand will also have an integrated website, video on demand, mobile and paid download platforms.
Pyne said the relaunch of the Disney Junior brand in a programming block on Disney Channel in the U.S. in February was the Channel’s best month ever among children aged two to five. Year to year, the Disney Junior block is up 44 percent among kids.
“The initial results are nothing short of astounding. In its premiere week, Disney Junior delivered the highest preschool ratings in the history of the Disney channel,” Pyne said.
The relaunch of Disney Junior, comes as public broadcaster, the Australian Broadcasting Corp. gets ready to rebrand its pre-school service, ABC for Kids, in early May. Part of the rebrand will include expanding the number of hours of daily pre-school programming on its digital channel, ABC2, by 3hours a day, starting at 6 am rather than 9 am.
The ABC’s classic pre-school program, Bananas In Pyjamas, has been made into a CGI version by Southern Star Entertainment and will be one of the new ABC for Kids flagship programs.