Disney Upfront Stresses Multiplatform

New York -- Disney ABC Kids Networks kicked off the upfront-presentation season with a heavy pitch for multiplatform opportunities, including the upcoming relaunch of enhanced broadband services that will feature full series episodes from Disney Channel, which could be preceded by commercials.

Starting this spring, Disney series hit That’s So Raven, The Suite Life of Zack & Cody and Kim Possible, among others, will be available free and on-demand at DisneyChannel.com (www.disney.go.com/disneychannel/index.htm). Similarly, installments of Power Rangers and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! will be available on JetixTv.com (tv.disney.go.com/jetix/index.html).

Disney ABC Cable Networks Group senior vice president of advertising sales and promotions Tricia Wilbur said advertisers will have the opportunity to stream full-length or customized spots before the shows, or static ads adjacent to the programming, in addition to the banner ads that already appear on DisneyChannel.com.

On the linear network, Disney -- which, through its affiliate deals, is prohibited from running commercials -- has pacts with one-dozen marketers for PBS-style sponsorship ads, according to Wilbur.

“We’re well aware of what the brand means on-air,” she said, noting that the site will also feature short-form content, music video and bonus materials from the network’s original movies.

During the “Mix It Up” presentation, Wilbur emphasized that marketers could attach themselves to Disney Radio, Disney Publishing, the cable networks, Saturday-morning block ABC Kids and Disney Online through customized programs.

“We’re leveraging our platforms more so than in the past. That’s what we’re hearing from advertisers. After years of hearing about kids multitasking, that’s what’s really happening now,” she said.

Disney Channel Worldwide president of entertainment Gary Marsh said that during the 2006-07 TV season, 11 new series and 25 new films, including seven Disney Channel Original Movies, will bow across the TV networks. All told, the company will bow 849 new episodes of new and returning series.

Continuing its multiplex strategies, new original animated series The Replacements will premiere on both ABC Kids and Disney in September. Live-action series Hannah Montana -- starring country singer Billy Ray Cyrus and his daughter, Miley -- will premiere on Disney March 24 and then encore on ABC come fall.

With High School Musical and Twitches both drawing more than 7 million total viewers to their premieres, Disney has high hopes for upcoming original films Cow Belles (March 24), Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior (June), How My Personal Journal Became a Bestsellter (July) and The Cheetah Girls 2 (August).

Meanwhile, series favorites Lizzy McGuire and Even Stevens are going into syndication this fall.

The four new series joining the Toon Disney/Jetix lineup are: the 15th iteration of Power Rangers, acquisition Jackie Chan Adventures, Oban Star Racers and Yin Yang Yo.

With Toon Disney now in 50 million homes, the action-adventure Jetix programming block will no longer appear on ABC Family starting in the fall.