In an announcement at its Digital Content NewFronts event in New York, Disney said that the network will consist of more than 300 social media channels and a slate of original digital programmes that includes the Star Wars and Club Mickey Mouse brands.
The strategy, according to Disney, is to create high quality, digital-first stories and deliver them through digital platforms and influencers to millennial and Gen Z audiences.
Disney Digital Network will also include Disney’s in-house branded content service, Disney Co/Op, which works to pair up Disney digital storytellers with advertisers looking to create campaigns across social platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“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 Disney-ABC Television Group president of sales, Rita Ferro.
“We can now connect these opportunities with first-party data, proprietary insights, quality of service, and brand safety.”
Overall, Disney estimates that the Disney Digital Network will have a reach of more than 1 billion followers, and claimed it will be “one of the most impactful publishers in digital media”.
Jimmy Pitaro, chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, said: “This network extends our stories to the platforms Gen Z and millennial audiences are on every day, with diverse editorial voices that integrate top creators and influencers.”
The ‘editorial voices’ that will be present on the network include: Oh My Disney, delivering a “daily dose of Disney”; Disney Style, which looks at current fashion and beauty trends through the lens of Disney stories and characters; Polaris, which features original content from a community of gaming personalities; and the StarWars.com website and Star Wars app – the digital homes for “all things Star Wars”.
The new digital video programming slate consists of seven shows and includes: Science and Star Wars, a series that looks at the parallels between the science fiction of Star Wars and real-world scientific breakthroughs; and Club Mickey Mouse, a digital-first variety show that celebrates the original linear TV show that ran until the mid-90s.
The news follows reports from February that Disney-owned Maker Studios was cutting some 80 jobs. The Wall Street Journal reported at the time that Maker was making the layoffs as it “radically shrinks” the number of YouTube creators it supports from 60,000 to as little as 300 video makers with large followings.