Disney Digital Network Touts Synergies in New Structure

Disney Digital Network
Courtesy of Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media

Months after announcing that its Maker Studios division would no longer operate independently, Walt Disney Co. is putting those assets to good use inside its newly blended digital network.

Andrew Sugerman, executive VP of publishing and digital media for Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media, touted the synergies already at work in a Q&A on Friday at Vidcon in Anaheim, not far from the conglomerate’s theme park.

Disney revealed in May at its newfront presentation that Maker was folded into a new entity, Disney Digital Network, that encompasses a broad range of digital channel including all social accounts, leading websites like Disney.com and a branded content studio. The resulting network reaches 1 billion consumers worldwide with a heavy skew toward millennials and Generation Z.

“In bringing Maker in, we’ve made a much more robust network in an extraordinarily engaged and extraordinarily large audience globally,” said Sugerman.

Case in point: Polaris, a gaming-themed network that launched at Maker before its acquisition, continues to operate and will lend some of its influencer talent to a programming block on cable channel Disney XD launching next month. In addition, Maker-bred talent Alexys Gabrielle, has begun to be incorporated into the Oh My Disney digital effort.

Maker Studios was acquired by Disney in 2014 for $675 million. It was initially placed under the oversight of Jay Rasulo, who stepped down from the CFO post in mid-2015.

Maker Studios was once comprised of some 60,000 YouTube channels. Now Disney has pruned the roster down to under 1,000 Maker creators with Disney’s family-safe brand and corporate objectives.

“It just seemed to make sense that rather than build two parallel audiences, we should bring that together for a singular audience into a what we’re already doing on the digital side,” said Sugerman.