The emergence of Disney XD is evidence of a recurring trend in children's television; networks are moving off of a programming slate dominated by cartoons and are instead opting for a mixed media approach, enlisting kid sitcoms and other live-action alternatives to supplement their need for diversity. Attempting to match their need to find a balance of television that works and television that provides, kids cable networks are finding it necessary to further define (if not redefine) their long-term goals if they are to survive.
Toon Disney, most recently and at present a satisfactory receptacle for animation of the past decade with infrequent preemptions for more modern classics, will become Disney XD and hopefully benefit from a better-focused market approach. Disney XD will reportedly focus on a rather similar age range -- Kids 6-14 -- but will specifically target young male viewers.
"Disney XD will showcase great stories and empowering characters with Disney's brand credibility and a cool creative factor that will set it apart from the pack."
The incorporation of alternative programming, beyond animation, is only a fraction of the changes that will constitute the make-up of Disney XD. A 24-hour, advertiser supported network that currently reaches almost 70 million households via various cable affiliates, Toon Disney / Disney XD will represent a new look at kid/tween boys on multiple platforms: online, mobile and video-on-demand, will also be affected.
According to The Walt Disney Company: " Disney XD programming will reflect the boy demographic's fundamental values of accomplishment, learning, discovery and growth, and will be differentiated by Disney-branded live-action movies, and a new library animated programming, [with other] original programming [developed by ESPN]."
Apparently fed up with fighting a losing battle in trying to please two separate audiences (of young female viewers and of young male viewers), Disney Worldwide is instead opting to develop favorable content that continues to please young female viewers [for Disney Channel] while funneling more energy into the upkeep of Disney XD for young male viewers. Efforts to have it both ways, through Disney Channel, have not met expectations in recent years.
Launch titles for the re-branding of Disney XD -- slated for February 2009 -- include an original live-action title called Aaron Stone, a short-form animated item called Hero and Not, a mock documentary comedy on two skaters under the working title Mongoose & Luther, and the computer animated international co-production RobotDz. With Disney Channel clearly the television market leader in reaching the largest number of young female viewers with popular culture, secondary education musicals, and slice-of-life comedy; Disney XD hopes to use the male equivalent -- action sports, Batman, online gaming, and inventive television animation -- to help boys' TV interests resurface once again.