The network that brought Zac Efron, Zendaya, and, yes, Miley Cyrus into the spotlight is struggling. And while it's tough to imagine Disney having anything but a Midas touch, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the network is struggling with its core demographic as viewing habits shift away from traditional TV towards streaming services and YouTube.
"We see the migration," Disney Channel president Gary Marsh told WSJ. "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."
The newspaper reports that 26% of Disney's cable revenue and profits come from TV, which includes Disney Channel and Freeform, but additional reports are pointing to a drop in profits. Viewers may know that Disney Channel is a commercial-free network, which is another reason that it's important for Disney to find its next hit, like it did with Hannah Montana. Not only will it get viewers to tune in, a popular new series means new toys and merchandise tie-ins, another stream of revenue for Disney.
"We haven't had the breakout hits in the last year or so," Marsh explained. While Disney Channel shows like Girl Meets World may have been front of mind recently (and launching stars like Rowan Blanchard), it seems like none of the network's programming is resonating with viewers. Marsh hopes that Raven's Home, which is a reboot of the Disney Channel classic That's So Raven, will be the show to turn things around for the network.
So, while Disney keeps looking for its next Hannah Montana (smart money is on The Descendants sequel out later this month), it's also considering adding more shows to its online offerings. With a new Marvel series, Cloak and Dagger, set to premiere on Freeform and additional series like Tangled: The Series and Andi Mack mixing it up on the main network, Disney is hoping something will stick.
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