Disney Channel Finally Beats Nickelodeon's 19-Year Streak

We all know that the bread and butter of a successful TV network generally comes from how well shows do during the primetime hours. But let’s not forget that there are many other hours in the day, and that children aren’t so tethered to scheduled viewing like that. Disney knows that full well, and for the first time in 19 years, the Disney Channel can brag that it has finally beaten out Nickelodeon in total day overall audience for a cable network. Just think, most of the children that were watching Disney when it was on top probably have their own kids now.

In 2015, Disney Channel brought in an average total day tally of 1.234 million viewers, which was barely a Rapunzel-length hair above Nickelodeon’s total of 1.231 million. A mere 30,000 viewers allowed the House of Mouse to finally take the top spot that SpongeBob SquarePants’ home has earned for almost two decades. It’s obviously been a great year for the network, which boasts a slew of popular current and past series such as Girl Meets World (which brings in multiple generations thanks to familiar faces), Austin & Ally, and Jessie, not to mention airings of Disney XD and Disney Junior programs like Star Wars Rebels and Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, to name a few.

Disney Channel is even doing pretty good in the primetime department, and it ranked #5 for 2015 in total viewers. That makes the 13th year it has made an appearance in that Top 5, according to Deadline. One of the reasons why this boost was seen is because of the villain-filled quasi-spinoff TV movie The Descendants, which Disney claims was the most watched cable TV movie in total viewers with 12.2 million, and was also 2015’s top telecast in the key child demographic.

Not content to just take the second place spot without kicking up at least a little dust, Nickelodeon says that it’s is actually number one as far as the 2-11 demographic is concerned, and that it doesn’t focus on total viewers. Disney apparently can’t refute the kids demo claim, which is possibly why it’s boasting about the total overall. Networks, like children, aren’t free from bickering. Although with the return of classic programming at Nickelodeon, you’d think they’d want to promote bringing in older viewers nostalgic for Rugrats and Doug. And it’s also unclear just how much, if at all, Nickelodeon’s streaming service plays into any of these results.

For a quick comparison, even with all of its headline-grabbing stories and political coverage, Fox News only averaged 1.088 million total day viewers in 2015. If only they’d have thrown some Dog with a Blog reruns in there.

One has to wonder if Amazon and Netflix, with all of its great kids programming, will ever put forth statistics that allow them to enter the competition. Either way, Disney’s wearing the crown for the rest of 2016.

Nick Venable
Assistant Managing Editor

Nick is a Cajun Country native and an Assistant Managing Editor with a focus on TV and features. His humble origin story with CinemaBlend began all the way back in the pre-streaming era, circa 2009, as a freelancing DVD reviewer and TV recapper.  Nick leapfrogged over to the small screen to cover more and more television news and interviews, eventually taking over the section for the current era and covering topics like Yellowstone, The Walking Dead and horror. Born in Louisiana and currently living in Texas — Who Dat Nation over America’s Team all day, all night — Nick spent several years in the hospitality industry, and also worked as a 911 operator. If you ever happened to hear his music or read his comics/short stories, you have his sympathy.