One billion views is quickly becoming the milestone YouTube channel operators like to tout, with Disney recently reaching that figure with its slate of original family-friendly fare.
The Mouse House paired up with YouTube in November to launch a co-branded channel on Disney.com and YouTube featuring original content from Disney Interactive Media as well as curated amateur video.
Since then, animated series like “Talking Friends” and “Where’s My Water,” based on the popular mobile apps, and “Cutepolish” and “U-Zoo” have taken off with viewers since many of the series went live in February. “Talking Friends” alone has generated nearly 16 million views since its bow in June.
With the VidCon online video convention kicking off Thursday in Anaheim and running through Saturday, Disney and YouTube are now looking to increase viewership with a 10-day programming event on their joint network that introduces a new exclusive original video daily from the Mouse House’s theme parks, games group, theatrical, Radio Disney, TV and other divisions.
Those will include a performance by boy band One Direction, new episodes of the animated “Talking Friends” web series and “Simon’s Cat,” a 14-minute video of Cars Land at California Adventure and a behind-the-scenes look at Disney’s Broadway show “Newsies.”
The billion mark reps the totality of Disney’s efforts on YouTube through this month, according to Mark Walker, senior VP of Disney Interactive Entertainment, with some of that number including shorts that pre-date the February launch of most of its web shows.
Now it wants to grow that audience as it’s learned how to better incorporate Disney’s businesses into the channel and find what kind of shortform content works best with online auds.
“Disney has had a great history of embracing new media and finding its voice in that medium,” Walker said, referring to its first moves to distrib movies and TV shows to iTunes and other online platforms.
Since February, Disney has focused on organizing the channel by topic and developing its voice, while identifying YouTube stars “that have the warmth and charm and safety of the things that represent the Disney experience,” like “Pogo Fred,” and Anna Graceman, who covers “The Muppet Movie’s” “Rainbow Connection” as part of the new programming rollout.
So far, site’s shows are appealing more toward viewers that are older than 13, a demo that also gravitates toward YouTube video.
While Disney’s online viewership is impressive, the conglom is competing with hundreds of other YouTube channels from companies including Maker Studios, Machinima, Break Media, Vevo and Smosh, that boast talent who have amassed a large following on the web.
During the E3 videogame confab last month, Maker’s comedic Yogscast Channel, that revolves around two British videogame players Simon Lane and Lewis Brindley, passed 1 billion views. Separately, Machina has generated 3.4 billion video views for its male-skewing shows.
More channels are coming, driven by YouTube’s investment of more than $100 million in the production of original content for the web, backing names like Ashton Kutcher, WWE, Deepak Chopra, Nerdist Industries and Jay-Z. That comes as Americans spend almost two hours per week on YouTube, and more than 4 billion videos are watched globally every day.
Many of them only started launching over the last several months and weeks.
Stan Lee is set to introduce his first slate of scripted and reality programming for new YouTube channel World of Heroes that the comcibook icon is launching with Michael Eisner’s Vuguru. Meanwhile, IAC-owned Electus is launching pop culture channel Loud, with programming from Kevin Smith, Tyrese Gibson and Quddus, next week. It also has food-centric Hungry, as well as Hispanic-targeted Nuevon, as YouTube channels.
More than 6,000 producers, execs, online celebs and their fans are expected to attend VidCon, held at the Anaheim Convention Center.