In 2004, Comcast, the nation's largest cable company, announced plans to purchase a controlling stake in The Walt Disney Company, one of the world's largest entertainment companies. The merger would create a company that would rival Time Warner in all forms of media, from content creation to publications to cable outlets and distribution.
Wall Street and Madison Avenue were shocked and amazed when Comcast and Disney officially announced their merger plans in a multibillion dollar takeover deal from Comcast. The new company, called Disney Comcast Entertainment, is the considered the first true integrated media company for the 21st century. By combining one of the last "old Hollywood" studios with the largest cable operator in the country, Disney Comcast sets a model that will eventually influence the entire industry.
The company immediately changed a few outlets. Outdoor Life Channel became ESPN Outdoors, The Disney Channel became ad-supported, and Comcast Sports Networks dropped its alliances with Fox Sports Net. By the time the merger was completed in late 2004, the real changes began at Disney Comcast. For starters, the biggest changes happened to The Disney Channel. The network currently known as Disney Channel was relaunched as the Disney Family Channel (ABC Family Channel was relaunched as the ABC CableNet, running pretty much as it is with more ABC news and entertainment programs, including a repurposing deal with many ABC primetime series every week, as well as signing a limited airing agreement with CBN to air The 700 Club only twice a day and not nationally broadcasting CBN marathons, freeing up much of the lineup) while Disney Comcast launched a new premium cable network called The Disney Channel, a family-friendly outlet with uninterrupted movies, original shows and specials, and classic Disney programming, not unlike the original Disney Channel.
The new Disney Channel was just one of the two premium networks created by Disney Comcast. The other one was MovieNet, which utilized the movie library titles of Buena Vista, Disney, Touchstone, Hollywood, and Miramax (including pre-Weinstein Company Dimension) not unlike News Corp's Fox Movie Channel.
Comcast's G4 was one of the few casualties of the merger. It was revamped as Jetix, a new tween/teen oriented action brand created by Disney prior to the merger with many of its shows, including reformated interstitial segments like Cheats, Filter, and Cinematech, and regular shows like Judgement Day, Icons, and X-Play ending up alongside Jetix properties like Power Rangers, Beyblade, Digimon, Oban: Star Racers, Marvel cartoons, Gargoyles, and The Tick as well as other outside acquisitions from Nelvana, DiC, and others. Toon Disney pretty much stayed unchanged, though it began acquiring more outside programming from studios like Nelvana and DiC.
Because of the advent of video-on-demand, Comcast Disney has created numerous outlets using the technology. Disney Family Channel, The Disney Channel, MovieNet, and Jetix all have their own VOD networks and Disney On Demand PPV has the latest theatrical releases a month after they arrived on video as well as uncut library titles not availiable anywhere else as well as vault titles not commercially availiable such as individual episodes of The Muppet Show or Desperate Housewives.
In the end, Disney Comcast is one of the best companies in the world today.