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Disney Rolls Out Digital Network, Integrating Maker Studios With Its Own Brands

The Walt Disney Company has announced the launch of Disney Digital Network, an attempt to organize all of its digital-first initiatives, including what remains of its $675 million purchase of Youtube multichannel network Maker Studios in 2014.

The network, according to Disney, contains over 300 social media channels, as well as a curated set of Maker creators and influencers, and Disney’s in-house branded content service, Disney Co/Op. The company claims it has a total reach of one billion followers.

“The Disney Digital Network is one of the most impactful publishers in digital media,” Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, said in a press statement. “This network extends our stories to the platforms Gen Z and Millennial audiences are on every day.”

Disney Digital Network’s brand portfolio includes Oh My Disney, Disney Style, Disney Family, Babble, Polaris, and StarWars.com and the Star Wars app.

“This network is our response to how our advertising partners have been telling us they want to engage audiences: with high-quality content, mobile formats including micro-content and short-form video, social media influencers, and diverse distribution options across all major platforms,” said Rita Ferro, president of sales for Disney-ABC Television Group. “We can now connect these opportunities with first-party data, proprietary insights, quality of service, and brand safety.”

If it’s not obvious yet, the end game here is squeezing out every last dolllar from advertisers by promising a tightly controlled family-friendly ecosystem. It’s telling that the digital network is under the purview of Disney’s consumer products and interactive division, whose chief agenda is generating revenue, not creating new ideas like the company’s animation studios.

Disney will now enlist its 1,000 or so Maker video creators and social media influencers (culled down from 60,000-plus creators at the height of Maker) to create original content for its editorial brands. According to a press release, advertisers will be able to use the Co/Op to “tap into the authentic voices and audiences each creator brings, both through Disney and non-Disney branded content.”

Disney also announced a new series of original digital video programs that will become available across Disney Digital Network in 2017 and beyond. At least one of the programs, Coin, is an original animated series based on a short that Cartoon Brew wrote about back in 2013.

Here’s the announced programming slate:

  • Science and Star Wars: An episodic series that explores, explains, and demonstrates the parallels between the science fantasy of Star Wars and the real-world scientific breakthroughs the saga has inspired. Join show host Anthony Carboni and his rotating roster of IBM Researchers, scientific experts, guest stars, and Watson, to explore and experiment with technology that isn’t so far, far away anymore. Presented by IBM; Facebook exclusive through Facebook Anthology.
  • Oh My Disney Show, Season 2: Comedy, news, trends, and sketches combine in this always-on show built for every Disney fan’s feed.
  • Club Mickey Mouse: Club Mickey Mouse is a digital-first variety show that celebrates the original show of yesteryear but brings it into the present-day with a diverse cast of talented young creators, and, of course, everyone’s favorite mouse. Presented by HP Inc.; Facebook exclusive through Facebook Anthology.
  • Disney IRL: Oh My Disney brings iconic animated Disney characters and moments to real life, surprising people on location and our viewers at home.
  • Coin: Coin is an animated action-comedy on Polaris with a distinct, game-inspired aesthetic that follows a team of misfits tasked to save their world. Brought together by time traveling robot Crohnobot, Donovan (a gruff plumber quick to anger), Kid Victory (a master of weaponry), and the Sisters Vicious (twin masters of illusion who hate each other) must defeat super-villain Gamovah and retrieve the coin of Chorder before it’s too late.
  • Disney Design Challenge: The best and brightest young designers are invited to push the boundaries of their art form to create beautiful, innovative, and memorable works inspired by Disney films. In the first season, we challenge students in the fashion design program at Otis College of Art and Design to create an eight-look clothing line inspired by Disney’s Frozen.
  • Disney Magical Starts: This show is for the parents who want to spend more time creating experiences with their kids, but don’t know where to start. Our host parents and their kids help you tackle every day, and every new season, from holidays to back-to-school, with meal ideas, activities, crafts, tips, and more. And with a little help from our beloved Disney characters, family time is even more magical.

The news about Disney Digital Network was announced at the IAB Digital Content Newfronts in New York City on Tuesday.

  • Thalesourus

    … the real-world scientific breakthroughs the saga has inspired.
    Disney and Werner Von Braun’s “Man in Space” will have to take a back seat to a movie where spaceships go “woosh!” Welcome to Mike Judge’s “Idiocracy”.

    • BlueBoomPony

      Well I, for one, am building a hyperlight beam weapon in my yard. Isn’t everyone?

  • Anonymous

    I think I’m going to vomit.

  • Doconnor

    Sounds like they are just setting up their own website so the don’t have to share ad revenue with YouTube. This has the disadvantage that when people look for and share videos, they do it on YouTube, so viewership could be lower.

  • Too Many Cooks

    So, uh, I’m guessing they were planning to get rid of Pewdiepie even before the Nazi jokes he was supposedly fired for. There’s no way he would’ve fit in with the new brand.