Maker Studios, the YouTube multichannel network (MCN) it acquired for more than $500 million in 2014, has been absorbed into Disney's larger digital portfolio.
After months of layoffs at the struggling MCN, Disney revealed at its NewFronts presentation on Tuesday that it would roll Maker’s remaining creators and influencers into the Disney Digital Network, a new platform combining Disney’s digital media properties and social channels.
Andrew Sugerman, EVP of Disney consumer products and interactive media, noted Disney "pared down" its network of Maker creators over the last few months as Disney doubled down on creating more content of value with high-performing creators.
Disney emphasized a unified cross-platform portfolio that includes Pixar, Disney Family, Polaris (from Maker) and the Star Wars brand site and app. All told, these properties reach 1 billion fans – many of whom also interact in social channels.
“We are extending new characters and stories to the digital and mobile space, from Disney to Pixar,” Sugerman said. “The Walt Disney Co. is in the midst of a creative boom, where we’re [extending our presence] to social video, short-form content and using data to reinvent storytelling.”
Disney hadn’t historically pitched its digital portfolio alongside its larger linear programming slate at Disney-ABC Television Group, but that’s starting to change.
Disney revealed it would begin to “actively pair” Disney Digital Network's content and programming with The Walt Disney Co.’s broadcast and cable assets, including ABC and the Disney Channel, “so that advertising partners can reach vast audiences across all media platforms."
“It had become clear to us the value of our network was not in the quantity of creators we had, but in the quality of content we create,” Sugerman said. “Who you trust your brands with today is more important than ever.”
Disney’s trusted partner pitch was an allusion to Google’s recent brand safety challenges.
Disney positions itself as a trusted entertainment brand for everyone, with nostalgic cachet.
“We found the millennials who grew up with us are hungry for the stories and characters of their childhood and want to share them with their children,” said Jimmy Pitaro, chairman of Disney consumer products and interactive media.