Toon Disney Becomes Disney XD

As live-action continues to creep into outlets traditionally dedicated to animation, Disney has announced that it will re-brand its Toon Disney television and online platforms in the U.S. as Disney XD. The 24-hour, advertiser-supported network’s programming will consist of a mix of live-action and animated programming for kids 6-14, ‘hyper-targeting’ boys. The transformation will be seen in February of 2009 on television, web, mobile and VOD platforms.

Disney XD programming will include series, movies and short-form productions, as well as sports-themed shows developed with ESPN. The channel currently reaches nearly 70 million households via its basic cable affiliates. For the 19 Jetix channels and six Toon Disney channels and programming blocks in all other parts of the world, any potential re-branding decisions will be made on a case by case basis at a later date.

‘Disney Channel is a huge business serving kids all around the world, and it’s especially successful with girls, and our goal with Disney XD is to have that same success ratio with boys,’ says Rich Ross, president of Disney Channels Worldwide. ‘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.’

New animated properties include the short-form series Hero and Not (working title), produced in Italy by Studio Bozzetto & Co SRL, and RoboDz, a CG-animated and live-action short form comedy series co-produced by Toei Animation Company Ltd. and Walt Disney Television International Japan. Other featured series will included the Disney Channel hit animated comedy Phineas and Ferb, and the superhero cartoons Batman: The Animated Series, Superman: The Animated Series, Spider-Man and Iron Man.

The New live-action programs will include Aaron Stone, an original, single camera adventure series about a teenager who is enlisted to become the real-life version of a legendary, crime fighting online game character. The series is exec produced by Bruce Kalish (Disney Channel’s The Famous Jett Jackson) and Suzanne French (Overruled!, Life with Derek), and produced in HD (HD) by Shaftesbury Services II, Inc. Mongoose & Luther (working title) is a single camera, documentary-style single camera show about two best friends who set their sights on becoming world famous skateboarders. The creators and executive producers are Matt Dearborn and Tom Burkhard (both of Disney Channel’s Even Stevens). Filmed in HD, the series is a production of Turtle Rock Prods., Inc.

Disney XD will be the seventh brand in the kid-driven TV and radio business of The Walt Disney Co. The company’s global portfolio encompasses Playhouse Disney, Disney Channel, Radio Disney, Disney Cinemagic, Toon Disney and Jetix.