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Disney’s Shift Shows Cable Channels Losing Status to Streaming in Big Media

Late last year, as Disney’s streaming division discussed how to program Disney Plus, the service that launched last week, its team came up with a radical idea. They suggested moving reruns of Disney Channel shows off the cable outlet and putting them only on the streaming service, say people familiar with the situation.

The idea prompted opposition from Disney Channel President Gary Marsh’s team. Their concern was that the reruns make up the vast majority of Disney Channel programming around the world, so without the shows—including series such as “Doc McStuffins” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates”—the cable channel would have a hard time filling its schedule without investing more money in new shows. In the end, CEO Bob Iger ruled that the reruns should stay on the cable channel while also running on the streaming service, the people said. But the notion that the idea got as far as it did is an indicator of how much things have changed in the entertainment industry.