New network Disney Junior is rival to Nick Jr.

While better known these days for removing channels, DirecTV announced Friday it is adding kiddie cabler Disney Junior to its programming lineup.

The addition has no bearing on DirecTV’s current standoff with Viacom, according to a spokesman for the satcaster, which saw the conglom yank 17 nets earlier this week due to a carriage dispute. But one of the eliminated nets, Nick Jr., targets the same audience as Disney Junior, as do some of the other Nickelodeon-branded properties.

Whether awarding the network a channel slot in the middle of the Viacom dispute is a coincidence or not, DirecTV could be sending a not-so-subtle message to the conglom that it has other programming options capable of serving audiences not being met by Viacom.

Aimed at kids 2-7, Disney Junior launched as the daytime block of Disney Channel last year before evolving into its own 24-hour net that will now be available in 55 million homes. Programs include “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” “Doc McStuffins,” and “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse.”

Disney Junior will be channel 289, supplanting network NASA to 346. Neither channel is getting a slot previously occupied by Viacom.

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