“The company is a disaster,” says one creator.
The pulse at the 2017 Newfronts has been slow. Across the board, enthusiasm for the event has dwindled as the digital video businesses have taken two divergent roads — television or bust. Today, at its Newfront, Maker Studios officially died. In its place — Disney Digital Networks, with Maker being positioned by Disney PR as the “Maker Creator Network.”
“This network is our response to how our advertising partners have been telling us they want to engage audiences: with high-quality content, mobile formats including micro-content and short-form video, social media influencers, and diverse distribution options across all major platforms,” said Rita Ferro, President of Sales, Disney-ABC Television Group.
In actuality, it’s that Maker Studios has officially folded into Disney as has been the plan since Fall 2016.
Among the brands that Maker built, Polaris is the only to survive the transition into Disney Digital Networks (DDN)while the company touts a list of family-friendly, Disney-branded editorial brands and one focused on moms called “Babble”. “Star Wars” is also on deck in DDN.
“With an audience of over one billion highly-engaged followers, the Disney Digital Network is one of the most impactful publishers in digital media,” said Jimmy Pitaro, Chairman, Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. “This network extends our stories to the platforms Gen Z and Millennial audiences are on every day, with diverse editorial voices that integrate top creators and influencers.”
And over the past few months, Maker Studios’ remaining team (which isn’t many), has been trimming back its talent roster to include a stable of marquee creators in what Disney has branded a “curated” group of influencers, who Disney calls “social channels.” And according to one creator who is opting out of Maker Studios, “the company is a disaster,” and it “takes weeks to shoot one video with them.” A fun fact that could pose a hurdle for Disney Digital Networks branded entertainment arm, Disney Co/Op, which according to their Newfront presentation is a big opportunity for brands and advertisers to better connect with Gen Z and millennials.
“We can now connect these opportunities with first-party data, proprietary insights, quality of service, and brand safety. This is something only Disney can deliver and we are excited to bring this incredible opportunity to the advertising community,” added Ferro.
And, like it announced at the 2015 Newfronts (referenced above), Disney will continue to leverage its digital network to distribute new IP as well as repurposed franchise IP. Its “social channels” AKA “YouTube creators” will likely serve as baked-in marketing.
At its presentation, Disney Digital Networks announced a slate of projects in development (see below) noting in an official release that “Disney is actively pairing the digital content creation and programming capabilities of Disney Digital Network with The Walt Disney Company’s broadcast and cable assets across ABC, Disney Channel, and others.”
Throughout the early days of the merger, executives inside of Disney told VideoInk that the production and activation of content was a particular rub across the various Disney-owned properties as an executive order was passed down from the Disney “powers that be” proclaiming Maker Studios would handle all digital production. In response to programming calls though, Makers’ bids were often more expensive and lower quality than what “old school” executives had been doing for years.
But as history proves time and again, the corporate big dogs always win. Maker Studios will now be a faint memory to be shared in MCN hey-day nostalgia, while Disney powers on.
Shows officially announced, with loglines, are listed below: (drawn from a release).
- Science and Star Wars: An episodic series that explores, explains, and demonstrates the parallels between the science fantasy of Star Wars and the real-world scientific breakthroughs the saga has inspired. Join show host Anthony Carboni and his rotating roster of IBM Researchers, scientific experts, guest stars, and Watson, to explore and experiment with technology that isn’t so far, far away anymore. Presented by IBM; Facebook exclusive through Facebook Anthology.
- Oh My Disney Show, Season 2: Comedy, news, trends, and sketches combine in this always-on show built for every Disney fan’s feed.
- Club Mickey Mouse: Club Mickey Mouse is a digital-first variety show that celebrates the original show of yesteryear but brings it into the present-day with a diverse cast of talented young creators, and, of course, everyone’s favorite mouse. Presented by HP Inc.; Facebook exclusive through Facebook Anthology.
- Disney IRL: Oh My Disney brings iconic animated Disney characters and moments to real life, surprising people on location and our viewers at home.
- COIN: COIN is an animated action-comedy on Polaris with a distinct, game-inspired aesthetic that follows a team of misfits tasked to save their world. Brought together by time traveling robot Crohnobot, Donovan (a gruff plumber quick to anger), Kid Victory (a master of weaponry), and the Sisters Vicious (twin masters of illusion who hate each other) must defeat super-villain Gamovah and retrieve the coin of Chorder before it’s too late.
- Disney Design Challenge: The best and brightest young designers are invited to push the boundaries of their art form to create beautiful, innovative, and memorable works inspired by Disney films. In the first season, we challenge students in the fashion design program at Otis College of Art and Design to create an eight-look clothing line inspired by Disney’s “Frozen.”
- Disney Magical Starts: This show is for the parents who want to spend more time creating experiences with their kids, but don’t know where to start. Our host parents and their kids help you tackle every day, and every new season, from holidays to back-to-school, with meal ideas, activities, crafts, tips, and more. And with a little help from our beloved Disney characters, family time is even more magical.