With the start of the fall television season, a great deal of attention is focused on traditional media companies’ online efforts. Who’s streaming what. Premiers being aired online before television. Much of the discussion is centered on the television networks and their experimentation with video distribution strategies and platforms. In the cacophony of all this noise, Disney, despite being the parent of a major network (ABC), has managed to stay relatively unnoticed. Disney’s efforts are worth calling out.
Over this past year, Disney has launched a handful of online content and gaming communities. They’ve redesigned some of their existing properties. They’ve even bolstered their portfolio with the purchase of popular children’s destination, Club Penguin. The combined efforts are paying off.
In August, Disney.com had 23.03m unique visitors, an increase of 12% over July (’07) and 24% over August 2006 (Nielsen/Net Ratings). Home page traffic was up 20% and video links generated 230m clicks. And though the 4th quarter is only just beginning, the company has signed up more than 1m new subscribers this year.
Adding to the accolades, Disney.com was a top performer at Web Marketing Associations ’07 Web Awards this week. The gateway to the world of Disney won the top award for Best of Show /Best Designed Website – besting 2,400 other candidates. Their toontown.com and gamekingdom.com properties were also singled out as outstanding. Disney.com also recently earned honors as one of the top five sites on Adweek’s digital Top 5 List.
Between ABC, ESPN, retail, theme parks and movies, Disney.com is a very small part of Disney’s overall earnings, so when the November 8th earnings call rolls around, online success may be of minuscule financial merit, but bottom line absent the actual bottom line: even if the revenue impact is small, when it comes to their core brand (e.g. kid-and-family centric focus) Disney knows its audience and is successfully engaging them online (mobile experiments excepted). While others are struggling or being second guessed (NBC/Hulu etc?), Disney’s succeeding; both online and financially. (Last quarter they beat earnings. They may be on track to beat estimates again). That’s worth taking note, and keeping an eye on.