Given that it centered on over-the-top video distribution, it made sense that the announcement was also, well, over the top.
Last week, Disney Entertainment executives, surrounded by a phalanx of imperial Stormtroopers, announced the launch of the Disney Digital Network, a new over-the-top (OTT) digital distribution network designed to deliver Disney-related video content directly to consumers as part of the company’s next-wave digital strategy. The announcement, made at the NewFronts ad sales presentations, was reported by Fortune.
The Death Star-sized reveal was the fact that the House of Mouse plans to create and include editorial content related to its massively popular Marvel and Star Wars properties, giving fans a (super) powerful incentive to engage and climb aboard. Disney, meanwhile, gains a potentially lucrative new source of revenue for its flagship brands—and a new platform on which to engage with its fans.
The announcement also provides an answer to the lingering question, “What’s Disney going to do with Maker Studios,’ which Disney acquired in 2014 (see “Disney Plans Global Unboxing Event”). After laying off nearly 80 employees at Maker in February after revenue growth for the company fell well short of expectations, the studio’s remaining staff will now be front and center in the creation of short digital-specific content tied to Disney’s key brands.
One example of the type of content the new network plans to offer is Science and Star Wars, a show designed to compare the wonders of a galaxy far, far away to tenets of real-world science. Disney Digital Network will also offer content based on other Disney brands and properties, from shows in the vein of the classic Mickey Mouse Club to a reality-style competition show in which the winner scores a contract at Marvel Comics.
Disney competitor Time-Warner launched a Boomerang OTT subscription channel for kids last month, and also announced in April that a new live-action Teen Titans series and the third season of Young Justice will debut in 2018 on a new DC-branded SVOD network, joining a number of other Time Warner OTT networks (see “Live-Action ‘Titans” Will Air on DC Digital Service”). The race is now on, as Disney re-organizes and enhances its efforts to use OTT delivery, building a new pipeline for content that has the potential to upend the influences on geek culture.