Disney Sells ‘Brand XD’

One year after its rebrand,
Disney XD is poised to
battle with the big boys for a share
of advertising dollars targeted to
young men due to a strong 2009
ratings performance and several
new programming projects debuting
over the next year.

Since its launch in February
2009, the former Toon Disney has
experienced double-digit increases
in viewership in key young
male demos, including a 40% increase
in its target ofv boys 6 to
14, according to Disney Channel
Worldwide president of entertainment
Gary Marsh .

Disney XD has successfully integrated
new original series such
as Aaron Stone, Zeek and Luther,
I’m In the Band, and Kick Buttowski:
Suburban Daredevil with
off -Disney Channel shows such
as Suite Life on Deck and animated
series Phineas and Ferb.

Marsh said the network hasn’t
forsaken female viewers: 40% percent
of the network’s audience consists
of young girls. “The goal was to
target boys but never exclude girls,
which gives advertisers a much
bigger opportunity,” he said.

Marsh would not predict how
well Disney XD would perform
in the kids’ upfront market, but
believes the network’s ratings
growth should help sell the network’s
future prospects to advertisers.

The network will be fighting
for boys-targeted ad dollars in a
very crowded marketplace that
includes Nickelodeon, Cartoon
Network and The Hub, the new
joint venture between Discovery
Communications and toy maker
Hasbro, to launch this fall. Nickelodeon
will present its slate of
new programming this week during
its upfront in New York.

Overall, the 2009 kids’ upfront
was pegged at $850 million, according
to industry estimates, and
few see that-or the total ad spend
figure-increasing, according to
Multichannel News sister publication
Broadcasting & Cable.

Bill Carroll, vice president
and director of programming for
Katz Media Group, expects the
networks to divvy up a growing
boys-targeted advertising market
that will draw from such categories
as soft drinks, fim studios,
fast-food companies, video-game
developers, electronics and cellphone

New to Disney XD this fall
will be Pair of Kings, which stars
Mitchell Musso (Hannah Montana)
and Doc Shaw (Suite Life on
Deck) as fraternal twins who find
out they are heirs to the throne of
a distant land.

The network will also benefit
from Disney’s September 2009 acquisition
of Marvel Comics, with
a new animated series set for fall.
Th e Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes
is based on the team of Marvel
superhero characters Iron Man,
Thor, Captain America, The Incredible
Hulk, Giant Man and Wasp,
said Marsh. In summer 2011, Disney
XD will air an animated movie
based on Phineas and Ferb.

And Disney Channel in April will
premiere new series, Good Luck
Charlie which revolves around the
exploits of three siblings whose
lives are turned around by the birth
of their baby sister.

The network will also ramp
up its original movie production
in 2010 with development with
the debut of Den Brother, Avalon
High and a sequel to its successful
2008 movie Camp Rock .

R. Thomas Umstead

R. Thomas Umstead serves as senior content producer, programming for Multichannel News, Broadcasting + Cable and Next TV. During his more than 30-year career as a print and online journalist, Umstead has written articles on a variety of subjects ranging from TV technology, marketing and sports production to content distribution and development. He has provided expert commentary on television issues and trends for such TV, print, radio and streaming outlets as Fox News, CNBC, the Today show, USA Today, The New York Times and National Public Radio. Umstead has also filmed, produced and edited more than 100 original video interviews, profiles and news reports featuring key cable television executives as well as entertainers and celebrity personalities.