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DHX to drop Disney brand for channels

Canada’s DHX Media is rebranding three of its children’s channels to bring them under the Family Channel umbrella.

JakeDHX Television-operated Disney XD, which targets kids aged 6-12, is becoming Family XTRM, while its 2-6-skewed nets Disney Junior (English- and French-language feeds) will be known as Family Junior and Famille Junior.

The changes come into place by November 30, by which time DHX rival Corus Entertainment will be handling the Disney brand locally after yesterday securing a wide-ranging pact with The Walt Disney Company.

DHX is also planning new line-ups for the channels starting in January next year. Disney content such as Liv and Maddie and Jake and the Never Land Pirates (pictured) will remain until that point.

DHX has commissioned a fourth season of Family Channel flagship series The Next Step from Temple Street Productions, which will sit alongside the already-announced Gaming Show season two, Justin Time season three, The Music Room and Fangbone!.

Furthermore, DHX has secured a 70-hour multi-year output deal with Mattel for shows from brands such as Barbie, Monster High, Thomas & Friends and Hot Wheels. These will play across the various Family-branded channels.

DHX bought Family Channel and the Disney-branded nets for C$170 million (US$140 million) from Bell Media last year, with the latter forced to make the sale as a condition of its deal with acquire rival cable company Astral Media.

In Canada, all speciality channels must be at least half-operated by a local company.

“This is a new world that has seen a dramatic increase in the value of kids’ content globally,” said Dana Landry, CEO of DHX Media. “As one of the leading creators and distributors of children’s entertainment content, we are excited to take advantage of this trend to combine our content strengths with our Canadian-industry leading Family brand, across all our channels.

“The tastes and viewing habits of young viewers have evolved, and we look forward to leveraging our world-leading library and working with top producers to create new programming that will resonate with the new generation.”