Early Years (1983–1997)
In the channel's first years, shows that aired during its broadcast day included Welcome to Pooh Corner and You and Me Kid along with several foreign animated series and movies including Asterix, The Raccoons, Paddington Bear, and the Australian western Five Mile Creek; the original late night schedule featured reruns of The Adventures of Ozzie and Harriet. As filler material, the channel also featured D-TV, a series of MTV-style music videos which showed popular music interwoven with classic Disney animation. Outside of daytime programs for children, the network also aired movies and original specials (largely concert specials), primarily during the nighttime hours.
Subscribers initially received a monthly program guide/magazine, though it was phased out by the time the channel began targeting itself as a commercial-free basic channel. Disney Channel received a special citation from President Ronald Reagan in 1984. As a premium channel, The Disney Channel would air week-long free previews four times a year, as well as two free preview weekends periodically (with ads targeted to non-subscribers), in the same manner as other premium channels such as HBO, Cinemax and Showtime. On December 1, 1986, Disney Channel began broadcasting 24 hours a day.
Early in 1986, the musical sitcom Kids Incorporated, about a pre-teen (and later teen-to-young adult) gang of friends who formed a pop group, mixing their everyday situations with variety-show and music video style performances. It became a hit for the channel, spawning many future stars in both music and acting during its nine-year run, including Martika (who went by her real name of Marta Marrero in the show's first season), eventual Party of Five co-stars Scott Wolf and Jennifer Love Hewitt (billed as Love Hewitt), and Stacy Ferguson (later known as "Fergie" of The Black Eyed Peas).
In 1988, Good Morning, Miss Bliss, a starring vehicle for Hayley Mills of Polyanna and The Parent Trap fame, made its debut; the series was cancelled after 13 episodes due to low ratings. NBC picked up the series in 1989, retooled as Saved by the Bell, with Miss Bliss actors Mark-Paul Gosselaar, Dustin Diamond, Lark Voorhies and Dennis Haskins carried over to the new show; Saved by the Bell achieved major success on NBC's Saturday morning lineup (producing two spinoffs in the process) and in worldwide syndication.
In early 1989, the channel revived one of the company's early TV staples with The All-New Mickey Mouse Club, which was an immediate hit that proved Disney's basic variety show formula could still work, unlike in the short-lived 1970s revival. The latest version contained many of the classic elements from "theme days" to updated mouseketeer jackets, but the scripted and musical segments were more contemporary. MMC had a stellar young cast, launching the careers of future stars Christina Aguilera, JC Chasez, Ryan Gosling, Britney Spears, Justin Timberlake, Keri Russell and others.
By 1989, The Disney Channel had a total of about five million pay subscribers nationwide. In 1991, eight cable providers volunteered to move The Disney Channel to their expanded basic cable packages, instead of offering it as a premium channel; Jones Intercable was the first provider to carry the channel as a basic network, initially carried on the Basic Plus tier on its Fort Myers and Broward County, Florida systems as a test run. Soon after, other cable systems began to transition the channel to their basic tiers, either as an experiment or full-time. Even as larger multiple system operators such as Cox Communications and Marcus Cable began to offer The Disney Channel on their basic tiers, Walt Disney Company executives continued to deny any plans to convert the channel to an ad-supported basic service, referring to the switches to basic on some systems as part of a five-year "hybrid" strategy; allowing providers to offer it as either a pay service or a basic service.
Also in 1991, The Disney Channel tested a two-channel multiplex service on two cable systems. By 1992, Nielsen Media Research estimated that a third of The Disney Channel's subscriber base were adults without children in the home; and by 1995, its subscriber base expanded to 15 million cable homes, eight million of which received the channel through a premium subscription. In 1996, Anne Sweeney was appointed to oversee The Disney Channel, and the channel began offering a nightly primetime film.
Other articles related to "years, year, early":
... In the channel's first years shows that aired during its broadcast day included Welcome to Pooh Corner and You and Me Kid along with several foreign animated ... As a premium channel, The Disney Channel would air week-long free previews four times a year as well as two free preview weekends periodically (with ads targeted to non-subscribers), in the ... Earlyin 1986, the musical sitcom Kids Incorporated, about a pre-teen (and later teen-to-young adult) gang of friends who formed a pop group, mixing their everyday situations with variety-show and music ...
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