Disney Launches Story App Aimed at Moms

NewFront event focuses on mobile series and games

While most of the NewFront lineups this week have centered on Web video series, Disney Interactive is taking its moment in front of the ad community to pitch a slew of apps, games, Web destinations—and a handful of originals.

Among the projects Disney touted on Thursday is Story, an app aimed at parents, particularly moms. The app, which goes live next week, is designed to pull photos and videos from a user’s phone (like say, all the pictures of the new baby) and put them together into a shareable story. 

Disney also looked to entice brands to support video series that aren't solely about video. And these projects reach across several demographics. We’re focused on producing content that serves the entire household,” said Jimmy Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive. “That’s kids, tweens and teens and parents. And we’re selling audiences, not shows.”

For example, there’s Blank: A Love Story, a show inspired by Disney figurine collectors; It’s a Small World, a show based on the iconic theme park ride; and Digitales, which features finger puppets. Another show in the works is Citizen Kids, a documentary series focused on exemplary children. A clip shown at the NewFront featured a young girl who erected a lemonade stand in Times Square and helped raise over $100,000 for a charity organization that combats child slavery.

On the mom front, Disney is also pushing several original video blogs born on its parenting site Babble, including That's Fresh With Helen Cavallo. Disney has also scored success with social games aimed at moms: per Pitaro, 15 million women have played social games like Disney's Ghosts of Mistwood on Facebook. Babble is also set to expand into Latin America.

The company is also planning to significantly overhaul Disney.com, which it has done several times in the recent past. But reaching its audience on tablets and mobile apps is arguably a bigger priority for Disney, given its demographic mix. In fact, Disney has had seven No. 1 mobile games in the past year, said Pitaro, and games have become a powerful breeding ground for Web shows. "We love this space," Pitaro said.

The popular Swampy's Underground Adventures, which was born as the iPhone kids game Where's My Water?, is now headed to its second season, said Pitaro. Here’s a stat that might surprise some who expect Disney’s TV offshoots to account for most of its digital traffic: Swampy generated 27 million views, outperforming everything else Disney offers on the Web (the company's content has generated 2 billion views on YouTube collectively). 

And on the other end of the spectrum is a Web show born out of a slew of apps created by Outfit 7, including Talking Friends and Talking Tom Cat, an animated interactive cat that drinks milk and farts, among other things. A Disney produced Web show tied to Talking Friends has already generated 130 million views. So expect more of the same.

“Our goal is to create new franchises for the company," Pitaro told Adweek.

Disney also announced a new partnership with Vevo that will see both companies sharing music video and series content.

Pitaro said unlike some of the NewFronts this week, Disney doesn’t necessarily see its series concepts as fully baked. "The hope is to craft some of these projects with advertisers," he said. "My goal is to ultimately collaborate with the people in the room. Here’s what we have so far, let’s sit down and figure out a partnership."

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