NewFronts: Disney Tees Up Online Shows, ‘Story’ App for Digital Families

Mouse’s interactive arm touts YouTube pact, 500 million cumulative Facebook fans


Disney Interactive is pouring more content into the digital hopper, announcing 10 new online original series and a forthcoming app, Story, designed to let parents share user-generated stories online.

Theme for Mouse House’s Digital Content NewFronts — part of the weeklong series of presentations to ad buyers in Gotham — was “the art of interactive storytelling.”

Jimmy Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive, boasted about the division’s deal with YouTube, which has generated more than 2 billion views to date with viewership up 263% year over year. He also noted that Disney pages on Facebook cumulatively have received more than 500 million “likes.”

“Our YouTube partnership has generated some of our biggest hits,” Pitaro said. That will grow as Disney continues to add more “high-quality content.” He called out two series that have hit big on YouTube: “Talking Friends,” based on apps of the same name, which has been viewed more than 130 million times; and “Swampy’s Underground Adventures,” which has 27 million views.

Series Disney previewed at the NewFronts include season 2 of “Swampy’s Underground Adventures,” starring animated alligator from popular Where’s My Water? game.

New kidvid skeins are: “It’s a Small World,” animated show based on the famous theme-park ride; “Digitales,” finger-puppet retellings of Disney classic films by kids; and “Blank: A Love Story,” featuring stop-motion versions of Vinylmation collectible toys based on Disney characters.

Two shows aimed at tweens and teens are “D’Fied,” weekly show highlighting Disney-inspired style and fashions; and “Stunt’d” mockumentary series following indie film crew as they shoot stunt scenes.

Mom-targeted series are: “Celebrity Pet Psychic,” featuring animal whisperer Sonya Fitzpatrick; “Making It Up,” how-to talkshow format hosted by Kerri Kenney-Silver; “That’s Fresh with Helen Cavallo” cooking show; and “Citizen Kid,” profiling kids who are active in their communities.

On music front, Piatro cited Disney’s deal with Vevo, announced in February, to create family-friended music destinations on Vevo and Disney.com. Disney also is prepping new Internet show “Unfiltered with Cole Plante,” which follows 16-year-old deejay Cole Plante as he gears up for Lollapalooza.

Pitaro also said Disney will launch a “fully sponsor-able” games vertical on Disney.com later this year.

With the Story app, to be released on Apple’s iTunes App Store next week, each member of the family can share video and photos in shareable “stories.” TV ads promoting Disney Story are skedded to begin airing next week.

“It’s designed to turn everyday moments trapped on our smartphones into beautiful stories,” Pitaro said, adding, “We think it’s a perfect sponsorship vehicle for families to tell their stories.”

On social, Disney Interactive can bring to bear bloggers at Babble Media, which it acquired in late 2011. Pitaro noted that Babble bloggers promoted DisneyBaby.com, driving site traffic to 1.5 million visitors less than four months after launch. Company is looking to launch Babble internationally, as well, with Latin America targeted for this fall.

“We can extend any brand message beyond boundaries of traditional advertising… extending to Babble’s bloggers,” Pitaro said.

Event was held at Times Square’s Edison Ballroom art-deco venue. To close it out, Disney brought on one-hit wonders Plain White T’s, which performed 2006 hit “Hey There Delilah” and two other lite-rock tunes.

Pitaro riffed on the newfront’s 9 a.m. start: “We wanted to include Johnny Depp and Robert Downey Jr., but they didn’t like the 5:30 a.m. call time.”