Disney Channel (UK and Ireland)

For the Disney Channel in other countries, see Disney Channel (international). For the original Disney Channel in the United States, see Disney Channel.
Disney Channel
Launched October 1, 1995 (1995-10-01)
Owned by Disney–ABC Television Group
Picture format 576i (16:9 SDTV)
1080i (HDTV)
Audience share 0.23%
0.09% (+1) (September 2015 (2015-09), BARB)
Slogan The Best Place to Be
Country United Kingdom
Republic of Ireland
Headquarters Chiswick, London
Formerly called The Disney Channel
(until 1 March 1997)
Sister channel(s) Disney Junior
Disney XD
Timeshift service Disney Channel +1
Website www.disneychannel.co.uk
Sky Channel 609 (SD/HD)
Channel 610 (+1)
Channel 631 (SD)
Virgin Media
Channel 724
Channel 725 (+1)
TV Choice On Demand
Virgin Media Ireland Channel 613
Channel 633 (HD)
TalkTalk Plus TV Channel 480
BT / YouView Channel 480
Plusnet Channel 480
Streaming media
Sky Go Watch live
(UK and Ireland only)
Virgin TV Anywhere Watch live (UK only)
Horizon GO Watch live (Ireland only)
Now TV Watch live (UK only)

Disney Channel is a kids and teen's entertainment channel available in the United Kingdom and Republic of Ireland since 1 October 1995. A one-hour timeshift service called Disney Channel +1 is available on Sky and Virgin Media. Disney Channel currently has two sister channels; Disney Junior and Disney XD. It currently focuses on live-action programming.


Disney Channel was originally planned to launch in 1989 on the newly launched Sky satellite service. It was featured in much of the promotional material surrounding the launch of Sky Television and the Astra satellite. The joint venture with Sky collapsed May 1989 after discussion about the venture had been taking place since November 1988, but Disney felt it was no longer on equal footing on "decision-making responsibility" in 50-50 partnership. Disney was supposed to start up two channels, but when the talks broke down, Sky issued a lawsuit against Disney, claiming £1.5 billion in damages.[1][2] The suit was later settled with Disney selling its stake in the joint venture back to Sky, and agreeing to licence its movie library for a five-year period.[3]

Super RTL launched in Germany in 1995, as a joint venture between Disney and the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Télédiffusion (or CLT, formally the Compagnie Luxembourgeoise de Radiodiffusion, or CLR). Disney finally launched in the UK on the Sky platform on 1 October 1995, as the first Disney Channel in Europe and outside the United States. But before that happened however, Disney Channel's satellite owner, SES, bought Astra 1B during its construction as it was known as Satcom K3 from GE Americom. It was launched on board the European Space Agency and Arianespace's Ariane 4 rocket on Flight V42, on March 2, 1991, to add extra capacity to the satellite television services from 19.2° east, serving Germany, the UK and Republic of Ireland.[4]

In 1997, Disney Channel adopted a new Mickey Mouse head shape logo. The idents mainly used red and blue colors on irregularly shaped objects that formed the logo.

On 1 May 1999, another new logo was launched, with three symmetrical circles forming the iconic Mickey Mouse head shape.

On 29 September 2000, Disney Channel launched two sister channels, a preschool-oriented Playhouse Disney (now known as Disney Junior) and the now-defunct 24-hour cartoon channel Toon Disney (Which eventually got replaced with Disney Cinemagic which itself became Sky Movies Disney). A one-hour timeshift of Disney Channel also launched on the same day. All 3 were only available to Sky subscribers. NTL and Telewest customers could only receive the main Disney Channel. On all platforms, the Disney Channel package was a premium offering, requiring an additional subscription fee in order to view, though Sky subscribers could receive the channels for free if they also subscribed to the full Sky Movies package (aka Sky Movies World, with contained 4 Sky Premier channels, 5 Sky MovieMax channels and 2 Sky Cinema channels). Despite the launch of Playhouse Disney, Disney Channel continued to air a block of Playhouse Disney-branded preschool programmes during school mornings, although in later years was greatly reduced. On 15 March 2003, a new logo and graphics were introduced.

In early 2006, Sky and Disney were locked in ongoing negotiations over a new contract for carriage on the former's digital satellite television service. The previous, ten-year deal, which was inked while Sky floated on the stock exchange in 1994, was temporarily extended whilst both sides attempted to reach an agreement. Sky was understood to have been seeking a substantially reduced payment towards the kids broadcaster. A new agreement, reported to be worth £130 million a year, was reached on 27 February 2007. As a result, on 16 March, changes were made to the Disney services in the UK. Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney ceased to be premium add-on channels and instead operated as part of basic-level subscription packages (such as Sky's "Kids Mix".) A new premium service, subscription channel Disney Cinemagic, was launched to take the Disney slot in the Sky Movies premium bundle; Toon Disney was replaced with Cinemagic, Toon closed at 6:00am and Cinemagic launched at 10:00am. Disney Channel's main one-hour timeshift, Disney Channel +1 closed and was replaced with Disney Cinemagic +1. However, Disney Channel +1 subsequently returned on 26 June 2006.

On 27 October 2006, Disney Channel was added to Top Up TV Anytime, a service that downloads programming overnight from various channels to a Thomson DTI 6300-16. In 2007, Disney added more VoD content to Virgin Media's service. On 22 November 2007, it was announced Disney Channel would join the lineup for Picnic, BSkyB's proposed new pay-TV service for DTT.

It began broadcasting in 16:9 widescreen on 14 May 2010. A new set of program mini-idents that would play before the program would start were launched on 11 September 2010. On 1 September 2011, a new logo was adopted. On 15 September 2011, an HD version launched on Sky.[5]

On 1 June 2012, Disney Channel introduced a refreshed logo and new bumpers and promo layouts. In July 2013, a new website was launched with On Demand services and commercial advertisements started to air.

On 18 July 2014, the channel has adapted the current the New German Logo.


Disney Channel has an interactive television service on Sky, in which viewers are able to press the red button on their Sky remote to access information about TV series, character profiles, detailed TV listings, quizzes, and hundreds of messages submitted by viewers. The interactive service also includes links to a small selection of games. Some can be played as 'overlay' games, with the channel video continuing in the background; others are accessible via a link to a Disney-branded section of BSkyB's Sky Games interactive service. The overlay games are developed by Pushbutton and French game developers Visiware. The interactive service was designed and built by Pushbutton, and went live in September 2007 and was taken off in September 2011 [6] replacing the old service created by Tamblin. Previously, Disney Channel also had a Teletext service, consisting of about 200 pages, known as Disney Text.

Disney Channel used to be translated in British Sign Language on its late evening programming.

Live presentation

Main article: Studio Disney UK

Live presentation was an important feature of Disney Channel with the best known example of this as Disney Channel UK Live, which was launched in September 1997 and later relaunched as Studio Disney on 1 May 1999. Presenters included: Nigel Mitchell, Emma Lee, Leah Charles, Jean Anderson, Mark Rumble, Amy Garcia, Ollie from Freefaller, James McCourt, Jemma James (now Jemma Forte). Studio Disney ran on weekdays, usually from 16:00 to 19:00, in direct competition with similar services offered by CBBC, CITV and Nickelodeon. The show featured a team of between two and six presenters who came on air between programmes, giving viewers the opportunity to call in, interact and win prizes. Studio Disney also produced many of its own short programmes, including Wish Upon a Star and Junior Journo, which were aired during the block itself and between programmes at other times. Studio Disney bowed out on 1 July 2005, in line with the disappearance of afternoon in-vision presentation on CITV and Nickelodeon the previous year and leaving the channel with a format similar to that of its American counterpart.

The live presentation of the show would also run competitions in which viewers could win holidays, and other prizes. Special holiday competitions would be run, New Year, Easter, Mother's Day, Father's Day, Chinese New Year, Christmas, etc. For instance, a Mother's Day Competition of 2003 involved Emma Lee surprising four entrants and their mothers to a special get-away. Meanwhile, a Father's Day - Competition of 2004 involved James McCourt and Nigel Mitchell treating one lucky dad to a day at Silverstone Grand Prix track.

At other times of the day, prerecorded presentations were used, typically recorded in such a manner that viewers would believe that it was live. An example of this was the breakfast segment Up (later called Zoom!), which was hosted out-of-vision by Capital Disney presenter and managing director Will Chambers. Another example originated from the Monster March event that ran throughout March 2002, during which the schedule featured many monster-themed shows and movies. Prerecorded sketches featuring a Mexican dinosaur puppet named Raoul were inserted between programmes, and as this proved popular, Raoul was given a number of his own segments on the channel over the next few years, including The Raoul Show, Good Morning Raoul and The Raoul Summer. The best sketches from The Raoul Show would later be made into a series of short programmes entitled The Best of Raoul. Raoul was even the subject of a question on the 20th Anniversary edition of Trivial Pursuit.

Disney Channel also held an annual Disney Channel Kids Awards. Its categories were centred around music, sport, television and film. The winners in each category were voted for by viewers online. The ceremonies, hosted by Studio Disney presenters, were held at The Royal Albert Hall and London Arena. These were broadcast on Disney Channel and Channel 5 and featured performances from popular music artists such as Girls Aloud.


Disney Channel's website features information, games, interactive features and contact details and submission forms. The site has been made entirely in Adobe Flash since 1 May 1999, the same day as the 1999 re-brand. In May 2003, it was completely redesigned to fit with the other Disney Channel's worldwide after the global re-brand. In 2007, it was added to disneychannel.co.uk, when the website's homepage was revamped to fit the look of the American site. In 2011, along with the other Disney sites, it was revamped. In September 2011, it was revamped once again, due to the new logo.

Sister networks

Disney XD

Disney XD is aimed primarily at male pre-teens and teenagers 6–14 years of age, its programming consists of original first-run television series, current and former original series and made-for-cable films from sister network Disney Channel, theatrically-released movies, and live-action and animated programs from other distributors.

Disney Junior

Disney Junior (formerly known as Playhouse Disney) is a pre-school kids channel. The channel launched on 29 September 2000 as Playhouse Disney, the same day as the now defunct sister channel, Toon Disney.

Sky Cinema Disney

Main article: Sky Movies

Disney Cinemagic

Main article: Disney Cinemagic

Toon Disney

Main article: Toon Disney


Main article: Jetix

Disney Channel services

Disney Channel programmes

Most watched episodes

The following is a list of the ten most watched shows on Disney Channel in the UK, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 27 May 2013.[7] The number of viewers does not include repeats.

Rank Series title Episode title No. of viewers Date
1 Hannah Montana Wherever I Go 621,000 27 May 2011
2 Good Luck Charlie Special Delivery 602,000 12 October 2012
3 Wizards of Waverly Place The Wizards Return: Alex vs. Alex 575,000 24 May 2013
4 The Suite Life on Deck Break Up in Paris 543,000 9 January 2011
5 Wizards of Waverly Place Wizards Exposed 535,000 18 February 2011
6 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Summer of Our Discontent 531,000 21 September 2007
7 Wizards of Waverly Place Wizards Unleashed/Puppy Love (UK) 521,000 29 October 2010
8 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Graduation 513,000 21 September 2007
9 The Suite Life on Deck Lost at Sea 513,000 21 February 2010
10 The Suite Life of Zack & Cody Sink or Swim 488,000 21 September 2007


Disney Channel traditionally broadcast most of its movies, including Walt Disney Studios movies and Disney Channel Original Movies, on the main channel. These were usually shown daily at 7pm under The Wonderful World of Disney (earlier The Magical World of Disney) brand. On weekends, the channel would show at least three movies per a day. The Saturday Movie Showdown took place every Saturday morning, wherein viewers were invited to vote for one of a selection of three movies on the channel's website, the winner being aired in the 11am slot. Starting in 2003, Latterly, a movie was transmitted in widescreen with Dolby Digital Surround Sound on Sundays at 4pm - much of the channel's other content was in 4:3 at this time.

However, when Disney Cinemagic launched in March 2006, The Wonderful World of Disney and the Sunday widescreen movie were axed, and all Walt Disney Studios movies were moved over to the new channel, such that they can remain as a premium add-on. However, Disney Channel Original Movies are still broadcast regularly on Disney Channel, with premieres of new ones shown on Friday evenings a short while after their premiere in the US (usually a few weeks, though in some cases, such as Full Court Miracle, the delay can be up to several years - Tiger Cruise, which had its US premiere in 2004, has yet to be shown in the UK as of November 2015). As a result of these changes, movies are now shown more frequently across Disney's channels overall, and non-Cinemagic subscribers can now see Disney Channel Original Movies.

Most watched films

The following is a list of the five most watched movies on Disney Channel, based on Live +7 data supplied by BARB up to 15 October 2015.[7] The number of viewers does not include repeats.


Movie title

No. of Viewers


1 Descendants 1,453,000 25 September 2015
2 High School Musical 2 1,336,000 21 September 2007
3 Wizards of Waverly Place: The Movie 1,044,000 21 October 2009
4 High School Musical 835,000 22 September 2006
5 The Suite Life Movie 780,000 17 February 2012
6 Starstruck 683,000 14 May 2010
7 Teen Beach Movie 597,000 19 July 2013
8 Good Luck Charlie, It's Christmas! 562,000 16 December 2011
9 Let It Shine 551,000 20 July 2012
10 Phineas and Ferb the Movie: Across the 2nd Dimension 533,000 30 September 2011


In October 1995, the Disney Channel in the UK's logo was a simplified Mickey Mouse head, with 'The Disney Channel' text on the bottom. Six idents for the 1995 logo were created by Lambie-Nairn. In February 1997, the channel dropped 'The' from its name, with a new splat logo, for the launch of Disney Channel France. In 1997, Disney Channel France adopted the same logo and idents. In 1999, Disney Channel refreshed its identity as it launched its new "Circles" logo, with symmetrical circles forming the iconic Mickey Mouse head shape. The new ident set was created in CGI animation, with various objects forming the Disney Channel logo. The new identity package was created by French graphic design company, GÉDÉON. According to GÉDÉON, the new logo is also described as an "experimental field for animation".[8] More than 30 illustrators, animators, graphic designers, directors, and motion graphic studios, such as Gamma Studios, Estructura7, Velvet mediendesign, and Pedall, collaborated with the project.[9]

When the new look was first launched, nine idents air on the same day. Some of the idents were also used in its sister channel, Playhouse Disney.



External links

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