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Making Friends With a New Generation

The Head Of Research for Disney Channel thinks the old Disney magic can still work on a new generation of kids.

Jane Gould, senior VP, consumer insights and programming strategy at Disney Channels Worldwide, is one of many who have tried to label this fresh wave of children, but for now she refers to them simply as the post-millennial generation. “They’re the most diverse generation in American history. The way their families are made up is more different than any other generation has experienced before,” she said.

Kids have also gone from having best friends forever — or BFFs — to friends to the end. Gould said these friendships are more complex and involved “at a time when the world feels scarier and riskier; the reliance on the friends … has really been a shift that we’ve seen.”

The shift is reflected in Disney Channel shows including Andi Mack, which was renewed last week for a third season. “Her two best friends, you have Buffy and Cyrus, they are people she leans on so much and is so vulnerable with, and that’s a real difference in that ‘friend to the end’ storytelling,” Gould said.

Ratings for the kids’ networks are going down, but Gould said they still love video. That led Disney to make sure its kids’ programming is everywhere the audience is. At the upfront, advertisers will hear about Disney Now, an app that gives kids access to Disney Channel, Disney Jr. and Disney XD.

When the new version of DuckTales launched, Gould said, “you saw our YouTube strategy, our linear strategy, our short-form app strategy,” as Disney aims to surround viewers.

Disney believes post-millennials highly value creativity. Do they still want to watch traditional TV cartoons and sitcoms? “Absolutely,” Gould said. “They are watching all kinds of content in all kinds of places and we feel the Disney magic is still very important to the audience.”