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Disney Bows New Media Studio

28 Feb, 2008 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Seeking to up production and distribution of original short-form entertainment on the Internet, The Walt Disney Co. and ABC Television Group launched Stage 9 Digital Media.

The first of 20 planned programs includes comedy series “Squeegees,” which premieres Mondays and Fridays as ad-supported content on ABC.com and YouTube.

“Squeegees” revolves around the trials and tribulations of four slackers and their fledgling window washing business.

ABC.com is separately launching the second season of “Voicemail 2,” again offering snippets into the life of a twentysomething male slacker in pursuit of happiness.

The moves mark another step by traditional media companies seeking to establish a beachhead and incremental revenue in digital distribution via quick, three- to five-minute episodes.

A report from Pew Internet & American Life found that 76% of young adults (age 18 to 29) watch online video, and 67% of that group forward the content to friends and family.

A separate report from Research and Markets (R&M) found that 40% of viewed online video content consists of sub five-minute episodes of news clips, jokes, movie trailers, music videos, TV clips and entertainment news.

A BlinkxTV survey found that twice as many online adults (25% to 13%) typically watch episodic TV programs, movies and sports compared to user-generated content.

“Stage 9 was created to bridge the gap between user-generated content and traditional production, and is a perfect example of how we are continually looking at innovative methods to develop, produce, market and distribute the high quality programming that consumers demand,” said Anne Sweeney, co-chair, Disney Media Networks, and president, Disney-ABC Television Group.

Additional programming includes this spring action thriller “Trenches” from filmmaker Shane Felux, creator of online favorites “Pitching George Lucas” and “Star Wars Revelations.”

R&M found that the bulk of video consumed online is so-called “bite-sized” entertainment rather than complete TV episodes and feature-length movies.

“It hasn't happened yet, but full-blown convergence between the TV and the Internet is on the way,” the report said.

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