(SoapOperaNetwork.com) — "Weeknights on SOAPnet" is no more as Disney/ABC has opted to pull the plug on SOAPnet.
In the biggest shocker to hit daytime since the cancellations of "Guiding Light" and "As The World Turns," Disney/ABC Television Group announced today that they have decided to discontinue SOAPnet, the 24-hour cable network devoted to daytime and primetime soaps. The news was first reported by the New York Times.
"The launch of Disney Junior in the U.S. is the next step in our global preschool strategy, which began 10 years ago with the premiere of our first dedicated preschool channel in the UK. The decision to ultimately transition SOAPnet to accomplish this was not arrived at lightly," said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks and president, Disney/ABC Television Group.
"SOAPnet was created in 2000 to give daytime viewers the ability to watch time-shifted soaps, before multiplatform viewing and DVRs were part of our vocabulary. But today, as technology and our businesses evolve, it makes more sense to align this distribution with a preschool channel that builds on the core strengths of our company."
The news of SOAPnet's demise comes right on the heals of reports indicating that The Walt Disney Company was looking to load off the ABC Television Network, which is the primary source of SOAPnet programming, off of its portfolio of networks. The story was later refuted on Deadline.com by a statement from a Disney press release.
The 24-hour Disney Junior schedule will include 200 new episodes annually of both new series, including "Jake and the Never Land Pirates," and current hits, including "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse," "Handy Manny," "Special Agent Oso," "Imagination Movers" and "Jungle Junction." Disney’s vast array of classic and contemporary movies, including among others "101 Dalmatians," "Aladdin" and "Little Mermaid," will be showcased.
With Disney Junior launching in 2012 with a target audience base of kids 2-7, SOAPnet will only have eighteen (18) more months left in operation.