ABC1 logo

ABC1 was a United Kingdom-based television channel from Disney using the branding of the Disney-owned American network, ABC, whose flagship is WABC-TV, channel 7, New York.

The channel initially launched exclusively on the British digital terrestrial television platform Freeview on 27 September 2004. On 10 December 2004 it was launched on Telewest's digital cable service, and soon afterwards on the NTL digital cable service. On 30 August 2005, ABC1 was launched on the Sky Digital satellite platform. The channel was encrypted as part of the basic Sky package, and therefore was not free-to-air, in contrast to its unencrypted status on Freeview and cable television. In October 2005, ABC1 was carried on the NTL Ireland digital TV platform. On 26 September 2007 at around 12 noon, ABC1 ceased transmission on all UK television platforms (Freeview, satellite and cable). Although the channel was the only channel in the UK under ABC branding, it seems it will not be the last as Disney-ABC International television have announced plans to bring the US news channel, ABC News Now, to international territories including the UK in a similar style to Fox News.

The channel was aimed specifically at a teenage to adult audience, apart from the weekend morning programming block Playhouse Disney, which was aimed at children. The channel was similar to American channel ABC Family, and UK channels Trouble (now closed) and Comedy Central (previously Paramount Comedy). Shows that were not for children, such as 8 Simple Rules did air on Disney Channel in the UK prior to being on ABC1 in edited versions for children's viewing, but when airing on ABC1, they were shown fully uncut.


The schedule consisted entirely of American drama and comedy. The channel generally made use of the ABC Television Studio back-catalogue. Programmes were mainly from the ABC network, such as Sports Night. It broadcast Ellen, the 90s sitcom by comedian Ellen DeGeneres and the Geena Davis sitcom The Geena Davis Show. Some of its programmes such as 8 Simple Rules, Daddio and Home Improvement were also seen in the UK on Disney Channel, but were later moved over completely to ABC1, when it started airing on Sky, to coincide with the full cartoon evenings.

On 28 February and 1 March 2005, the network shook up its schedule by introducing two major new comedies, Hope and Faith and Less Than Perfect to sandwich around the big ratings success of 8 Simple Rules. On 31 May the channel introduced Rodney to its schedule at 4pm weekdays and from the 4 July ABC1 began to air Scrubs, which is also seen on other UK channels, E4, Channel 4, Sky One and Comedy Central.

For the first year after launching ABC1 broadcast from 6:00 am to 6:00 pm only. Commencing 26 September 2005, the channel broadcast 24 hours a day on Sky and NTL (now Virgin Media) services. However, the channel did not go 24-hours on the Telewest (now also Virgin Media) digital cable service until 21 October 2005, and remained a 12-hour service on Freeview due to space restrictions on the platform. It is known that Disney would have liked the channel to go 24 hours on Freeview to boost its audience share in the evenings. NTL Ireland carried ABC1 24-hours, but for unknown reasons (a problem at ABC1, according to NTL) the guide reported "Channel Off Air" at 6:00 pm every day

ABC1 added US drama Kevin Hill to its schedule on 26 September 2005 as well as the second seasons of Less than Perfect and Sports Night towards the end of the year. 8 Simple Rules Season 3 was shown in March 2006, followed by Commander In Chief, and The Guardian, which joined the channel in April 2006.

On 5 June 2006, ABC1 introduced a block of programming from Playhouse Disney, including Higglytown Heroes, JoJo's Circus and Stanley. In July 2006, ABC1 started to air the second season of Scrubs and cult 90s drama Party of Five. In August more new programming was made available from ABC1 from the likes of Rodney season 2 and a change in the schedule for Playhouse Disney on ABC1 with the addition of Little Einsteins.

As of August 2006, all drama programming had been removed and the channel consisted of back to back sitcoms, though some drama programming did come back in 2007. In September 2006 Hope and Faith season 3 started and broadcasting every Thursday in double bills from 9:00 pm. Season 3 of Less than Perfect also started in October.

ABC1 was keen for its viewers to be able to see all of its programming on offer, and many programmes that premièred on the channel during non-Freeview hours were repeated at another time when the channel was available on Freeview (exceptions to this were The Guardian due to its subject matter, Ghost Whisperer and In Justice; although promotions for these programmes would air during the day whilst the channel was available on Freeview). It was also the only channel to time its running schedule so that Freeview viewers did not crash in and out of programmes at the 6:00 am/6:00 pm junctions.

The vast majority of shows shown on ABC1 had ended, with only two shows still in production, Ghost Whisperer and Scrubs (although ABC1 did not have the rights to later seasons of Scrubs and only the right for series 1 of Ghost Whisperer.)

Commercial placement

Unlike most UK broadcasters, for its first six months ABC1 did not carry any commercials. However, it did have full-length ad-style breaks featuring trailers for its own shows and those of the Disney Channel.

On ABC1, the advertising slots were placed in the American style of being close to the beginning and end of the programme, unlike the European fashion of between programmes and in the middle. The American style usually has the adverts at approximately 5, 15, 25, 35, 45 and 55 minutes past the hour as opposed to the standard European style of 0, 15, 30 and 45 minutes past, although ABC1 often did without the breaks at 15 and 45 minutes past the hour. The exact placing of adverts varied from show to show and from episode to episode and could be anything from half a minute to eight minutes before or after the beginning and end of a show. On ABC1, hour-length programmes (such as Commander In Chief) were often split into just three parts with the two ad-slots either end of the programme and the third roughly at the halfway point. ABC1 breaks were considerably longer than is customary in the UK due to the shortening of American TV series which has been ongoing for decades, as of 2007 the average American sitcom runs at 20 minutes while the average Drama runs at 40 minutes, ABC1 often filled long breaks with bumpers and promotions of its own, or Disney Channel UK's, programming.


It was announced on 7 September 2007 that ABC1 would cease broadcasting on all UK TV platforms, due to Disney deciding to concentrate on their other channels. ABC1 closed down on all UK TV platforms at 12:14, 26 September 2007. The final ident was seen after Home Improvement. even though it was scheduled to cease transmission on 1 October 2007.

On 6 February 2008 the channel CITV moved into the ABC1 broadcasting spectrum so that the channel ITV4 could increase broadcasting hours, as a consequence the CITV channel is now no longer available on Freeview in Wales as was the case with ABC1 due to conflict with Welsh channel S4C.

ABC1 was removed from the Sky EPG slot at 12:13 pm. The channel was also removed from the Freeview platform minutes later. On Virgin Media a screen informing of the close down was shown on the old ABC1 channel 161.

The ABC1 website, has the following quote:
We regretfully announce that Walt Disney Television will no longer be transmitting abc1 on any of the UK TV platforms (Freeview, cable or satellite) after September 2007. Walt Disney Television would like to thank its viewers for watching the channel and interacting with the website. It's been a great few years and we appreciate your viewership.

The final 'nail in the coffin' for ABC1 was evidenced by the fact that its broadcasting label on satellite (which is seen when manually adding channels) 10.862, H, 22.00, 5/6, under the label "9010". It has now been relabelled "Play Disney +" and is now airing a timeshifted version of Disney Junior, a channel which launched Tuesday 30 October 2007 on Sky 612 (originally as Playhouse Disney +), on the same day that all the Disney Channels were reshuffled to allow Playhouse Disney & Playhouse Disney + to be next to each other on the Sky EPG.

Programmes that were shown on ABC1

At time of closing

  • Scrubs (NBC, ABC) (ABC Studios) - (Also shown on E4, Channel 4, Sky1, Comedy Central and RTÉ Two)*
  • 8 Simple Rules (ABC) (ABC Studios) - (Currently broadcasting on 5* and TG4, also shown on Channel 5 and RTÉ Two)
  • Ellen (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Hope & Faith (ABC) (ABC Studios) - (Also shown on RTÉ One and RTÉ Two)
  • Less than Perfect (ABC) (ABC Studios) - (Also shown on Comedy Central Extra and RTÉ Two)
  • The Geena Davis Show (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Home Improvement (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Rodney (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Ghost Whisperer (CBS) (ABC Studios, CBS Television Studios) - (Also shown on E4 and Sky Living)
  • In Justice (ABC) (ABC Studios)

Playhouse Disney on ABC1

Cancelled before closure

  • The Sinbad Show (FOX) (Sony Pictures Television)
  • Kevin Hill (UPN) (ABC Studios) - (Also shown on E4)
  • Moonlighting (ABC) (ABC Circle Films) (now ABC Studios) - (Also shown on CBS Drama)
  • Once and Again (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Sports Night (ABC) (ABC Studios)
  • Commander in Chief (ABC) (ABC Studios) - (Also shown on More4)
  • The Guardian (CBS) (Sony Pictures Television)
  • Daddio (NBC) (ABC Studios)
  • Party of Five (FOX) (Sony Pictures Television) - (Also shown on CBS Drama)
  • Mad About You (NBC) (Sony Pictures Television) - (Also shown on Living, and RTÉ One)
  • Brotherly Love (NBC)
  • Empty Nest (NBC)
  • Nurses (NBC)
  • Unhappily Ever After (The WB)
  • Soul Man
  • Thunder Alley
  • General Hospital
  • Wild Rules
  • Beg, Borrow and Deal

External links

This page uses content from the English Wikipedia. The article or pieces of the original article was at ABC1 (UK). The list of authors can be seen in the page history. As with Disney Wiki, the text of Wikipedia is available under the GNU Free Documentation License.
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