Like everything else in the world, trends tend to come and go. If you were old enough to have witnessed the golden age of Disney channel, then you probably remember how its classic shows like That’s So Raven and The Suite Life of Zack and Cody dominated cable ratings.
Flash forward to the 2010s, things just aren’t the way they were before. Recent Disney Channel Originals like Girl Meets World, A.N.T. Farm, and I Didn’t Do It just weren’t bringing in the same numbers and ended up on the cutting room floor after just a few seasons.
So in a last bid attempt to save declining cable ratings, Disney is joining the streaming industry.
Disney Channel Loses Viewers, Network Giant Turns to Digital Streaming to Save Declining Cable Ratings
Disney Channel and Freeform are two cable television networks under Walt Disney Corporation. Freeform was formerly known as ABC family until it was repackaged in January 2016. It is known for young-adult programs such as Pretty Little Liars, Shadowhunters, and Recovery Road. Despite the shows being well-received by critics, it failed to resonate with audiences. Over the last three years, both networks have lost a total of 4 million subscribers, and it is all because of digital streaming.
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the youth, Disney and Freeform’s target audience, have been heading over to streaming services like Netflix and YouTube. This has resulted in ratings plummeting down to 23 percent for the first half of 2017 for Disney Channel and 25 percent for Freeform. The effect has resonated negatively to sales for Disney merchandise, including toys and apparel.
“We see the migration,” said Disney Channel’s president, Gary Marsh, to the Wall Street Journal. “One of the challenges is trying to serve the viewership where they’re going as opposed to trying to drive them where we want them to go.”
Lack of a breakthrough hit
Marsh further explained that the declining cable ratings could also be due to the fact that the networks just haven’t been releasing any breakthrough hits in past few years. Though Girl Meets World made a star out of Rowan Blanchard, the show was not immune to bad ratings when its second season aired and ended up being canceled last January.
So in the midst of looking for its next Hannah Montana, Disney is hoping its online offerings will help them recuperate from their losses. The network is also geared to premiere Raven’s Home, a reboot of That’s So Raven and has recently added two new shows to the mix, like Andi Mack and Tangled: The Series. As for Freeform, the channel is set to premiere the Marvel TV series, Cloak and Dagger sometime next year.