Disney’s Mobile Showcase: ESPN.com Revamp, ‘Maker Axis’ Platform, Disney Infinity 2.0 Previews

“We’re using technology to lift the limits on creativity to enhance consumer experiences,” says CEO Bob Iger

Bob Iger

Disney revealed several initiatives from Maker, Disney Interactive and ESPN at the Disney Mobile Product Showcase held at their Burbank lot on Friday.

“Disney has a long legacy of innovation, especially when it comes to spectacular storytelling,” Disney CEO Bob Iger said. “Today we’re showcasing a small sample of mobile products across our businesses which demonstrate how we’re using the technology to lift the limits on creativity to enhance consumer experiences and expand our incredible storytelling.”

Long-term plans for Maker Studios became a little clearer following the announcement of the “Maker Axis” platform, which allows for custom video hub creation across a network of content creators, making it easier for them to grow their audiences.

Currently, Maker is the global leader in online short-form video and the largest content network on YouTube with 55,000 independent creators from more than 100 countries. The multi-channel network attracts over 9 billion views every month and is home to more than 600 million subscribers. Disney acquired Maker in March for $500 million in total consideration and up to $450 million in performance-based rewards.

In sports news, ESPN’s VP of Digital and Print Media John Kosner announced that ESPN will officially launch the new ESPN.com in the U.S. and U.K. on the 20th anniversary of the site on April 1, 2015.  The network’s “SportsCenter” app will change its name to “ESPN” so that the company’s website, mobile website and mobile app maintain the same branding. As of September, ESPN reached a record-setting 94 million unique users, with 76 percent of digital users coming through handsets and tablets and 40 percent through apps.

On the gaming side, Disney Interactive previewed its upcoming mobile version of Disney Infinity 2.0. The app will make it easier for fans to connect and includes multi-player functionality and will be available on iPhone for the first time this year.

Disney Interactive, which is is currently the sixth leading mobile games publisher worldwide, saw a 26 percent reduction in staff earlier this year, with a loss of 700 employees overall. The unit is now headed by Jimmy Pitaro, who has been pushing the division toward profitability.

On the home video front, Disney Movies Anywhere (DMA) announced a partnership with Walmart’s VUDU digital video service. DMA will be available through VUDU beginning Nov. 18, 2014.  DMA is a cloud-based digital movie locker service which allows users to access content from Disney, Marvel and Pixar across their devices. It’s the studio’s answer to the UltraViolet cloud-based storage, with Disney being the only major studio that did not partner with UltraViolet in favor of developing its own proprietary system.