Disney launches short-form streaming app to compete with YouTube
- Disney Digital Network (DDN), the media giant's platform for digital-first content aimed at young adults and teens, unveiled a programming lineup on Tuesday that includes a free ad-supported mobile video app, according to TechCrunch. The network's Oh My Disney millennial-targeted brand this summer will release a free app to showcase curated social content and short-form videos, DDN announced in its NewFront presentations in New York.
- Oh My Disney's programming will include content from a pared-down group of independent content creators along with programs like "Club Mickey Mouse," a back-to-school special with music videos and behind-the-scenes action with the Mouseketeers, and "Disney Backstage Podcast," DDN's first podcast series that will show the history and heritage of the Walt Disney company, per Variety.
- DDN also introduced a new digital brand called Disney Eats, an online channel and website with original shows from Tastemade. Disney Eats will showcase a new collection of kitchen products to inspire "co-cooking" experiences for families, available for purchase on Disney's new ShopDisney.com e-commerce platform.
As Disney prepares to launch a video streaming service to rival Netflix in 2019, the company appears to also be taking on YouTube with an expanded lineup of family-friendly short-form programming. DDN reaches more than 1.3 billion followers among its multiple platforms worldwide, the company told Variety. The division's portfolio includes Oh My Disney, Disney Style and Babble, with more than 350 cross-platform social media channels for the company’s characters and stories, Variety reported.
Company executives on Tuesday emphasized the "brand-safe" buzzword during their NewFront presentation, a not-so-subtle reference to ad scandals at YouTube and other digital platforms that saw brands flee its platform after repeated revelations that their ads were showing up alongside extremist content from hate groups and other bad actors.
The Oh My Disney video app comes after Disney last month introduced its ESPN+ streaming service that charges a monthly fee for content that isn't available on its cable channels. Disney's introduction of ESPN+ is the first part of the company's strategy to create its own collection of video streaming services that were pioneered by internet-based companies like Netflix. Disney isn't alone in this pursuit, as large companies like Conde Nast also announced plans to create streaming channels based on its Wired, GQ and Bon Appétit magazine brands.
DDN is the culmination of the company's efforts to revamp Maker Studios, a YouTube multichannel network that Disney bought for $500 million in 2014 to serve as a branded platform to reach new online audiences who are familiar with video streaming and digital content. But the company learned that it's difficult to build a business on YouTube, per Digiday. Disney last year endured its own scandals after YouTube star PewDiePie posted videos with anti-Semitic jokes and Nazi imagery. Disney severed ties with PewDiePie, who had built a multimillion-dollar business from Maker Studios. The videos demonstrated the pitfalls for ad-dependent companies that are eager to reach young audiences by making deals with talent who push boundaries, but also may violate company standards or basic social norms.