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Cable Technology Feature Article

November 07, 2011

Disney, YouTube to Collaborate on Family-Friendly Programming

By Beecher Tuttle, TMCnet Contributor

Cable providers took yet another hit on the chin on Monday when YouTube and Disney (News - Alert) announced that they will be teaming up to develop family-friendly content that will be broadcast on Disney's renovated website and a co-branded YouTube (News - Alert) channel.

The move is yet another Google-sponsored initiative aimed at driving viewers away from traditional content media like cable TV. The company launched its Google (News - Alert) TV set-top box last year and, most recently, saw its subsidiary YouTube announce an aggressive original programming scheme that will give users more incentive to cut their cable cord.

YouTube has signed deals with more than 100 content creators – ranging from entertainers like Madonna to sports stars like Shaquille O'Neal – who will build dedicated channels that feature completely original programming. YouTube has reportedly dished out at least $100 million to producers of the content.

While not quite as aggressive, the Disney move –estimated to cost the two companies between $10 million and $15 million – is another big step toward monetizing YouTube and making it more than an amateur video-sharing site.

The co-branded page will include a mix of original Disney programming, Disney user-created content, select Disney channel programming and other family-friendly content that currently lives on YouTube.

The New York Times – the first outlet to break the news – says that the deal is designed to help Disney draw a larger audience to its online programming. The traffic on Disney.com has plummeted in recent months, falling from 17.9 million in June to only 12.7 million in September, according to comScore (News - Alert).

“It’s imperative to go where our audience is,” James A. Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive, told the Times, adding that the deal will “bring Disney’s legacy of storytelling to a new generation of families and Disney enthusiasts on the platforms they prefer.”

Meanwhile, the move will help YouTube continue its push toward rebranding the site as a complete content destination, not just an outlet to watch videos of cats doing crazy things.

The first Disney-sponsored original series to launch on YouTube will be based on the entertainment company's popular puzzle app, "Where’s My Water?" The show will debut in February with other, similar shows to follow. The rebranded Disney.com will be heavily integrated with YouTube and will launch in the fall of 2012.

Beecher Tuttle is a TMCnet contributor. He has extensive experience writing and editing for print publications and online news websites. He has specialized in a variety of industries, including health care technology, politics and education. To read more of his articles, please visit his columnist page.

Edited by Rich Steeves