So while Disney PR was telling the NYT and others, including us, that CEO Bog Iger was unavailable for interviews, he did talk to the WSJ about the upcoming Disney.com relaunch, describing it as “the single most important companywide strategy Disney is currently implementing.” Some details:
— Personalization: Disney Xtreme Digital (XD) will allow more multitasking, personal pages, sharing, gaming, mash-ups from Disney shows and music. The site is organizaed by subject for adults; by character for kids. Categories: preschool; boys; girls; older kids and teens; families; and older Disney fans.
— Social networking: Like many sites, Disney now will offer chat while kids are engaged in other site activities but there will be a layer of parental control.
— Control: The new Disney.com will start life much the same way as a trip to Disney World. Once you enter the Magic Kingdom it’s Disney’s world and outside influences aren’t welcome. Iger told the WSJ the company is looking at ways to change it if outside contact can be policed.
— Making it pay: Subscriptions — some games will be pay for play; advertising galore; selling powers in a game; e-commerce (DVDs, travel, theme park tickets).
One of the questions raised by the Journal: is Disney late off the mark? Paul Yanover, the Disney exec responsible for the site says the company is “right on time for mainstream America.”
While the theme-park map front page has been the face of Disney.com for internet eons, it’s not as if Disney Online has been standing still. One example: Disneychannel.com entered the broadband era in 2006 with streaming video of episodes; from June to early November more than 53 million episodes and shorts had been played. The bigger question isn’t timeliness — Disney.com is already one of the top sites — but whether Disney can stick the landing. Iger wants “wow.” Yanover is aiming for “iPod cool with Disney magic.” We’ll see.
Related: DisneyChannel.com Serves 11.4 Million Streams During Debut Weekend