The premiere of Girl Meets World starring Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel on Disney Channel Friday night capped two years of anticipation following the announcement of the sequel/spin-off of the former ABC TGIF sitcom, Boy Meet World. Pent-up demand should have resulted in stellar Girl Meets World ratings, and it would have had the series premiere not been widely available to watch for free weeks beforehand.
A total of 5.2 million total viewers tuned in Friday evening to watch the Girl Meets World series premiere on Disney Channel. That topped the previous 2014 Disney Channel premiere of I Didn’t Do It’s by a total of 1.3 million viewers.
The Girl Meets World ratings topped all 2014 new series launches for all three kids demos ranging in ages from 2-14. By all measures the premiere was a success, but theoretically the ratings could have been higher.
Disney Channel decided to offer a free stream of the Girl Meets World premiere on iTunes two weeks ahead of the TV premiere, and it was available elsewhere online two weeks before that. This strategy was designed to lure new subscribers to Disney Channel that might fall in love with the series premiere and want to see additional episodes. While it may have succeeded in that task, the overexposure of the premiere online likely negatively impacted TV viewership.
The true test for Girl Meets World will come with the second episode. A ratings increase would be a telltale sign that Disney Channel’s strategy was effective.