Just how powerful are YouTube stars today? A new initiative launched by Disney XD and Maker Studios may hold the answer.
The program, dubbed Disney XD by Maker, will see the two Disney powerhouses combine forces in a search for what they’re calling the “next generation” of creators. The goal is to tap YouTube in order to develop new content for DisneyXD.com and the Watch Disney XD app. If programming really hits the mark with Disney XD’s primary demographic of young male viewers, digital creators may even find their way to cable and global satellite channels.
Chris Williams, (pictured) Maker’s chief audience officer, told StreamDaily the initiative speaks to YouTube’s expanding sphere of influence and the ability of YouTube creators, many of whom have become celebrities in their own right, to connect with audiences through varied storytelling formats.
“Maker and Disney XD believe this program can serve as a great on ramp for YouTube influencers who also aspire to work with Disney XD,” said Williams in an email.
The program is intended to serve as an incubator for original content specifically tailored to the initiative, with several of Maker’s leading creators confirmed as participants. Among those involved are CaptainSparklez (8.8 million subscribers, 1.8 billion views) forrestfire101 (635,000 subscribers, 588 million views), ZexyZek (1.4 million subscribers, 245 million views), 101DarkMonkey (197,000 subscribers, 16 million views), EvanTube (1.9 million subscribers, 1.6 billion views), Luzu and Lana (1.4 million subscribers, 65 million views), and Random Encounters (156,000 subsribers, 26 million views).
But Williams said up-and-coming creators also have a chance to be discovered. Anyone 18 or over can apply to be part of the initiative at Makerstudios.com/DisneyXD. To cultivate their skills, participating creators will be provided tools, analytics and development guidance from both Maker and Disney XD as part of the program.
“We’re casting a broad net and hope to find creators across a variety of genres including animation, gaming, scripted and unscripted,” he said.
The first videos are expected to launch before the end of 2015, said Williams. Videos created through the initiative will initially be distributed through creators’ channels on YouTube with the potential for Disney XD to then distribute across digital and traditional platforms. The best of the best may also be developed further into television pilots for Disney XD.
Maker’s network includes 55,000 creators from more than 100 countries, and attracts more than 10 billion views per month. The network specializes in short-form content aimed at a millennial and Gen Z demographic. Kid-focused Disney XD channel, meanwhile, offers a mix of live-action and animated programming over television, online, mobile and VOD platforms. The programming includes series, movies and short-form, as well as sports-themed programming developed with ESPN. There are 31 Disney XD channels available in 25 languages around the world.