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Bob Iger Explains Why Disney Bought Maker Studios

During its first earnings call with Wall Street analysts since buying Maker Studios for at least $500 million in March, the Walt Disney Co. shed a little more light on what it plans to do with the multichannel YouTube network on Tuesday.

In addition to using Maker’s stable of online stars to help promote its films, TV shows, theme parks and digital properties, Disney also intends to turn the company into a platform for short and long-form programming.

That especially includes anything featuring “Star Wars” characters.

“We can allow the Maker people to substantially improve the distribution and reach of shorter form video using these characters and stories and add their expertise on the production side,” said Disney chairman and CEO Bob Iger during the call.

While the executive said Maker had built “a bit of a brand” for itself online over the past several years, “we see Maker first and foremost as a distribution platform and successful one. There’s a huge marketing opportunity for this company.”

Maker was acquired because Disney “did not have the ability in the near term to distribute and sell as effectively” as the MCN, Iger said. “They had expertise in creating short form video that wouldn’t have been as deep as it could have been at Disney.”

Disney, like a number of entertainment conglomerates, is stepping up to be a larger player in the online entertainment arena, especially as it looks to court younger audiences glued to their mobile devices.

“We believe in the growth of entertainment on new media platforms,” Iger said, but noted that Maker has “great access to data and algorithms you wouldn’t have unless you had volume.”

Maker attracts around 5.5 billion views per month across its 55,000 YouTube channels, which includes the web’s most popular YouTube channel PewdiePie, which signed up its 26 millionth subscriber last month.

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