Disney Channel’s viewership decreased from 2008 to 2016. According to Forbes, this decrease is primarily due to weak performance by Disney’s media networks and the loss of subscriptions from young audiences. Approaching this audience with shows that are relatable to today’s children and youth has been controversial and a challenge for entertainment networks.
Disney’s strategy is an example of reaching a broader audience by featuring Disney’s first gay character and first interracial kiss in their recent release of Beauty and the Beast. The company also will release their show Andi Mack, which will feature teen pregnancy and a boy coming to terms with his sexuality. While these efforts to diversify their characters has been praised by many, conservative parents have been hesitant to support this kind of exposure for their kids. An online petition was made on LifeSiteNews.com to boycott Disney and has already received more than 137,000 signatures. The petition says, “Children’s movies are no place for promoting a harmful sexual political agenda, one that offends the deeply held beliefs of countless parents and families.”
Gary Marsh, president of Disney Channels Worldwide, explained that Disney is trying to create shows that deal with complex and emotional issues and resonate with children of this day. Young audiences have turned away from cable networks and are turning to more accessible platforms such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime where they are exposed to all kinds of content. Children’s interests are changing as the internet’s accessibility has created more curious kids.
We the Threefold Advocate recognize the changes in interests of this new generation and believe that diverse representation in media is important for the development of children. Easy access to media has led to what the industry calls “age of compression,” which means getting older younger. Children today are maturing faster and are desperately trying to find characters that they can relate to. We support diversity in media and we understand that networks are finding outlets to reach as many audiences as they can.
We the Threefold are aware of the risks of exposing young minds to complex and controversial social issues. We believe parents maintain the right to forbid their kids from certain content, but we believe that networks have a responsibility to adapt to progressive audiences