An ode to the Hannah Montana business model

Sarah Menendez Mar 24, 2016

On this fateful day, 10 years ago, Disney debuted a live-action television show featuring the daughter of a washed-up country star: Hannah Montana.

The television show  and character  was an instant success for Disney. It launched the career of the phenomenon that is now Miley Cyrus. “Hannah Montana,” a show about a teenage girl that led a double life as a pop star, turned into a multi-million dollar revenue stream. The show aired for four seasons over a span of five years. But that was only the base for the Hannah Montana brand. Five studio albums, two films, two tours, a live album and a slew of merchandising came out of the Hannah Montana money machine. Reruns of the show continue to air today.

But the true result of the show’s success was Cyrus’ career. Because she was Hannah Montana the kids show star, she was able to become Miley Cyrus, the (sometimes controversial) celebrity.

While she performed as Hannah Montana on air and on stage, she was also able to release studio albums under her name. After the Hannah Montana era was over for Cyrus, she went on to release more music, star in films and become…well, Miley.

Say what you will about her these days, but the Hannah Montana/Miley Cyrus business model worked. Many of her fellow Disney stars of that era followed her path out of Disney prime time and into real world success. Vanessa Hudgens and Zac Efron both started their careers in “High School Musical,” a made-for-TV movie released the same year Hannah Montana started. They both went on to pursue acting careers after three High School Musical movies. Selena Gomez and Demi Lovato have similar origin stories, too. 

But none of them have quite the empire that Hannah Montana did. Here are some of the money-making milestones of the show’s run:

March 2006: “Hannah Montana” debuts on March 24, 2006 with 5.4 Million viewers, earning Disney the highest ratings for the kids channel at the time.

November 2006: “Hannah Montana” soundtrack debuts at No.1 on Billboard top 100 with 281,000 copies sold in stores.

June 2007: “Hannah Montana 2/Meet Miley Cyrus” double album is released. This double album served both as the season two soundtrack and the first studio album for Miley Cyrus. It debuted at No. 1 on Billboard with 326,000 copies sold. The song “See You Again”off “Meet Miley Cyrus” reached No. 10 on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, marking the first time Cyrus appeared on the top 10 of the Hot 100 chart.

2007-2008: The double album was supported by the Best of Both Worlds Tour, which brought in $54 million in ticket sales.

February 2008: Parts of the tour as well as behind-the-scenes footage were released as a film entitled “HannahMontana & Miley Cyrus: Best of Both Worlds Concert” in American theaters. On opening weekend the film brought in in $31 million, debuting at No. 1. The film was intended for a one-week release, but went on to stay in theaters for a total of 15 weeks. At the end of its prolonged stint on the big screen, the film raked in a total of $65 million.

2008-2009: Cyrus went on to release a successful DVD/CD set of the tour, air another season of “Hannah Montan”a and release a third soundtrack album, “Hannah Montana 3.” The album debuted at No.3 on the Billboard 200 and featured her co-star Mitchell Musso and Disney star Corbin Bleu.

2009: “Hannah Montana: The Movie,” a feature film following the TV show’s storyline, brought in $155.5 million.

2010: The show’s fourth and final season airs. The season four soundtrack, “Hannah Montana Forever” debuts at no. 11 on the Billboard 200.

2011: The season finale of “Hannah Montana” brings in 6.2 million views after being the most watched show among kids 6-14 in 2006, 2007 and 2010.

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