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NewFronts 2015: Maker Studios Touts Disney Synergies with Marvel, ESPN

Maker Studios unveiled a slate of shortform programming Tuesday at its NewFronts energized with synergies with the many content powerhouses of its owner, Walt Disney Co.

Marvel, ESPN and ABC’s Lincoln Square Prods. were among the many entities teaming up with the massive multichannel network in order to get Maker’s target millennial audience feasting on content across the Disney universe. Disney acquired Maker in March 2014.

“Being part of the Walt Disney Co., the world’s largest media organization, has given us access to some of the most beloved brands and franchises in the universe,” said Ynon Kreiz, president of Maker Studios.

Kreiz cited Maker as the largest network on YouTube having doubled its scale over the past 12 months to 10 billion views per month, 650 million subscribers and 55,000 channels. He also noted that Maker had 200 shows in development, and 30 currently in production.

Erin McPherson, chief content officer at Maker Studios, connected the company’s current mission to the Mouseketeers of Disney over 60 years ago, who were the first kids to displace adults at the front and center of TV programming.

“Technology has completely changed but the desire for young people to connect directly with their peers has not,” she said.

Marvel and Maker will be exploring original digital content based on Marvel intellectual property in addition to supporting current Marvel releases on other platforms. While no specific initiatives were identified, Maker had success last year helping promote Marvel’s release “Guardians of the Galaxy.”

ESPN will bring top athletes of the X Games together with various stars across the Maker universe beginning this summer for content throughout the year.

Lincoln Square is working on “American Woman,” a series of irreverent shorts about great women in American history.

Maker will also be teaming with Disney-owned cable channel ABC Family on TV series “I Am Maker,” a docu-series that will focus on the content creators at the heart of the Maker’s business.

Many of the new talent Maker has recently signed was also on hand, including Rachel Zoe, Taryn Southern and Lisa Schwartz.

Maker unveiled many shorts including “Camp,” an adaptation of the James Franco short-story collection “Palo Alto: Stories.” Franco’s Rabbit Bandini shingle is working with Maker’s Creator Labs division on the project.

Maker Studios reversed the theme of last year’s NewFront presentation, which carried the tagline “I Am Maker,” to the new version, “Who Are You?” As McPherson put it, in an era where the traditional rules separating brands from publishers are blurring, a marketer has to have a personality. “For decades, what you are selling was enough,” she said. “But now who you are is more important.”

Maker Teamed with Outrigger Media and its Open Slate platform for Maker Select, a new initiative to facilitate media buying of any YouTube-based inventory, even beyond Maker. DigitalLBi and Starcom MediaVest Group will utilize Select for their clients.

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