While most media companies are pulling back their exposure to the declining ad markets, Disney is confident, and bucking the trend.
On Friday Disney launched Disney XD in 72 million homes, a new ad-supported basic cable channel targeting boys age six to fourteen. Disney is replacing its "Toon Disney" channel with new animation, live action and sports programming (done in conjunction with ESPN), hoping to eventually grow that distribution. And despite the downturn in advertising, the channel is launching with big ad partners—Kraft , General Mills , Lego, and Pokemon.
Disney is effectively looking to replicate the success of the Disney Channel, whose content mostly targets girls, with a channel that works the other way around—boy focused but girl inclusive. The Disney Channel has created a number of hugely successful franchises the company has been able to exploit across all its platforms, this would be a home for new brands targeting boys. And unlike the Disney Channel, which is ad-free, this new XD is ad-supported, allowing the company to expand its relationship with certain big brands.
Advertisers are eager to reach this group—there are some 20 million tweens age 9-14 and there are nearly 20 million boys age 6-14, who have buying power around 40 billion dollars. Disney says this is an underserved market when it comes to TV programming, and between boys and their dads, they see huge potential.
And Disney XD isn't just a cable channel—no surprise these days, it's a multi-platform brand with a big presence online and in mobile, as Disney tries to expand its Internet and phone-based gaming business.
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