The Disney Channel is a cable network owned by The Walt Disney Company. Its first broadcast was on April 18, 1983, as a 16-hour-a-day pay cable channel. It soon changed to a 24-hour-a-day channel in 1986, and in April 1997 became a basic cable channel. Its programming consists of original first-run television series, theatrically-released and original made-for-cable movies and select other third-party programming. It originally marketed its programs towards families, and then at younger children by the late 1990s, and is currently aimed at female children ages 6-11, while its Disney Junior programs are targeted at younger children ages 2–7.
During the channel's premium years, many Disney Afternoon-Era shows made their debuts on the Disney Channel as "sneak preview" broadcasts each spring or summer, allowing viewers who had the channel to see the shows before their syndicated premieres in the fall. Among these were The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh, Chip 'n' Dale Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, Darkwing Duck, Bonkers, and Aladdin. Of particular note, the "sneak preview" broadcasts of Darkwing Duck and Bonkers had intro sequences that would not be used in later broadcasts.
After each show's original run on the Disney Afternoon was finished and it was dropped from the block, they would then go into reruns on the Disney Channel. Of particular note, during the 1995-96 season, reruns of DuckTales, Rescue Rangers, TaleSpin, and Darkwing Duck appeared together in a 2-hour block called the Block Party, reminiscent of the Disney Afternoon's second season. These reruns remained part of the Disney Channel's line-up well into 2000, at which point the shows' reruns became exclusive to spin-off network Toon Disney. With the channel's above-mentioned shift to targeting tween audiences, coupled with all later animated programming being shifted to Toon Disney's replacement Disney XD, the Disney Channel does not air a lot of cartoons outside of the Disney Junior block; its last broadcast of a Disney Afternoon-Era show was a rerun of The Little Mermaid in 2010.
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