The Mouse House continues to court the digital generation.
In the first big Mipcom news, announced as the TV trade fair opened its doors Monday morning, Disney-ABC-ESPN Television revealed it had inked with Microsoft to deliver content from the Mouse House’s Stage 9 Digital Media to MSN Video viewers across Europe.
Disney-ABC-ESPN has also closed content agreements with Polish terrestrial broadcaster TVP, and inked with Canada’s CityTV network for an ad-funded VOD delivery of “Ugly Betty.”
The deal for Stage 9, Disney’s new-media content studio, covers its two pioneering made-for-Internet comedy series, “Squeegees” and “Voicemail.” “Squeegees” will be available on MSN in the U.K. from today; availability in France, Germany, Spain and Sweden follows shortly, along with “Voicemail.”
The deal typifies Disney’s advanced digital strategy.
The Mouse aims to grow its global TV biz, which pulls in more than $2.5 billion a year, by moving into developing markets — whether new media or regions, such as Latin America or Eastern Europe — without cannibalizing its still-dominant Euro-based traditional media biz.
“In new media there are opportunities to complement and support traditional TV viewing. In the U.S., ABC.com has 450 million streams since launching 2006. We see this, too, on our U.S. series with (Gallic broadcaster) TF1 and others,” Ben Pyne, prexy of global distribution for Disney Media Networks, told Daily Variety in Cannes.
When Disney expands, it has the cachet and content to partner with the very strongest. MSN attracts 465 million unique users worldwide a month. It has 18 localized versions in Europe, the Mideast and Africa.
With comedies “Squeegees” and “Voicemail,” Disney is reaching out from its powerhouse 4-14 demo to wider audiences: “Squeegees” features four bumbling window washers, while “Voicemail” is about the phone messages of a slacker 20-something.
“We have ‘millennials,’ 8- to 28-year-olds who use technology in very different ways to their parents. They use all these different ways to get content,” Pyne said.
New-media money “is still very small, but it’s incremental, and it’s encouraging that we’re trying new models and making ground,” he added. “You can have people pirate content off the Internet, or you can create a legal way to deliver content which you can monetize.”
Disney’s TVP deal in Poland includes returning live-action series, Disney Channel original movies “Camp Rock,” “High School Musical” and “High School Musical 2,” plus “Hannah Montana” and a renewal on “Lost” from season three.
CityTV’s pact makes episodes of “Ugly Betty’s” third season available for free for up to 28 days after their TV broadcast.
At a Disney press lunch Monday, Pyne presented a brief clip from the Sam Raimi co-produced fantasy adventure “Legend of the Seeker,” which bows Nov. 1.