Seven months after buying Maker Studios, Disney isn’t ready to reveal whether the largest network of YouTube channels is making the Mouse House any money. Still that doesn’t mean Maker hasn’t made sure its presence is felt at Disney, however.
“It is notable how well integrated Maker’s efforts have been across all of the segments of (Disney),” said Jay Rasulo, Disney’s chief financial officer, during a call with Wall Street analysts to discuss the company’s strong fourth quarter and record fiscal year results on Thursday.
During the presentation, Rasulo said Disney does not report Maker’s financials, but said Maker has “engaged with every segment of the company and is beginning to mine the opportunities.”
Those include working closely with the likes of Lucasfilm on the “Star Wars” franchise to produce short-form content, developing its own new series and evaluating new ways to distribute Disney and Maker’s own programming across mobile platforms.
This month, Maker gave the greenlight to two new series from documentary filmmaker Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets production company.
The company, which Disney acquired in a deal worth up to $950 million in March, also has announced deals to produce programming with Disney Channel and Disney XD; Fusion, a joint venture of ABC News and Univision Communications; and “America’s Funniest Home Videos,” which airs on Disney-owned ABC.
“They’ve also put their shoulders to the wheel on the marketing front,” Rasulo said of Maker’s executives, with the company’s Maker.tv and certain YouTube channels used to promote Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” this summer.
In September, Rasulo positioned Maker as “mostly a distribution play,” and put it alongside Marvel, Lucasfilm and Walt Disney Animation Studios as “a big studio” and “content creator” for the Mouse House in the future.
On Thursday, Rasulo called Maker’s channels “ubiquitous and target the audience for a lot of our films,” making it a key platform through which it can hype its upcoming tentpoles, of which Marvel recently dated 10 for release through 2019, alone.
“We’re extremely pleased with how integrated they’ve become in all of the thinking on the use of the platforms they’re so predominant in,” Rasulo said, citing its use of analytics and the content it creates. “It’s showing real promise moving forward and you’ll see a lot more.”