Walt Disney Co. says it will be shutting down its SOAPnet channel at the end of the year. The channel, which launched in January 2000, will be taken off the air on Dec. 31, the Los Angeles Times reported. "SOAPnet had a great run," Ben Pyne, president of global distribution for Disney Media Networks, said in an interview Friday. "It served an audience of super-soap fans. And when given the opportunity, all of our affiliates kept the channel up and running." Disney announced plans to drop the channel three years ago in order to make room for Disney Junior, a channel for toddlers. However, at that time cable and satellite TV operators were ready to give up SOAPnet, which played reruns of daytime soap operas, including "General Hospital," "All My Children," "The Young and the Restless," at night. "When SOAPnet launched, it was back in the videocassette-recorder days and you really could only record one episode at a time and you had to deal with all those cassette tapes," said Ed Martin, a soap opera expert and editor at large of the independently owned site MediaPost. "SOAPnet made it easy to follow multiple soap operas at the same time." Nonetheless, Pyne said Disney is ready to move on. "Our company has been very strategic and thoughtful in how we use the networks we have," Pyne said. "We want the programming we put on the air to be impactful."