Kids these days may still want to spend the bulk of their summer vacations watching screens, but unlike their parents’ generation, they aren’t waking up at 6 a.m. on a summer Friday to watch the Disney Channel. According to the Wall Street Journal, ratings at Disney are dropping across the brand’s channels, including Disney Channel and the teen-targeted channel Freeform. For the first six months of this year, both networks saw viewership declines in the double digits among their targeted demographics.
Thanks to Amazon, Netflix, and YouTube, kids now have a lot of choices and no longer have to sit through hours of That’s So Raven just because it’s the only kid show on. Disney hasn’t been able to keep up and is frequently bested in the ratings race by the likes of Nickelodeon (because Paw Patrol is basically visual crack for kids). Disney’s other problem is that it hasn’t had a breakout hit since its Hannah Montana–Wizards of Waverly Place—Suite Life of Zack and Cody heyday. Apparently, no one has been able to crack the code of making a show as ingenious as Hannah Montana. (She was an average high school student and a world-famous pop star, and no one figured it out!) Disney is now hoping that a That’s So Raven spin-off and a stand-alone app similar to HBO Go will help.
Disney is not alone, though: Prime-time viewing has dropped by 34% in the past five years for people ages 2 through 34.