Disney taps tweens with new short-form video app

Disney LOL, which features brief clips, .gifs and videos from the House of Mouse, aims to feed kids' desire for short-form, shareable content.
June 30, 2016

Disney has some big mobile plans when it comes to short-form digital content.

The company’s Consumer Products and Interactive Media (DCPI) division has just launched Disney LOL, a new iOS and Android app that lets kids watch brief clips, .gifs and videos of non-episodic content from Disney Channel, Pixar and Disney XD, as well as original social content featuring brands like Star Wars and Marvel.

Available initially in the U.S. and Canada as of July, the free app features interstitial ads that run between six and 15 seconds. It targets kids of all ages, with a sweet spot of six- to 14-year-olds.

Acknowledging that it’s a wide age span, Michael Hundgen, director of content strategy and editorial at DCPI, believes the app’s diverse cross-section of content means there’s enough IP to attract varying interests.

“Kids can watch Lego Star Wars clips or see what’s trending in the app’s feed,” said Hundgen. “We are fortunate to have some of the best IPs in the business, and our Instagram and Facebook initiatives already have big followings.”

In fact, Disney currently speaks to 1.15 billion followers across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and Vine, driving 325 million views per month.

“So we thought we’d build a product that aggregates what we distribute, but is also on-brand and high quality,” said Hundgen in an interview with Kidscreen, StreamDaily‘s sister publication.

Since children under 13 years aren’t legally allowed on certain social media sites like Facebook, Disney LOL is looking to tap into tweens’ desire for shareable pieces of content.

“We see the number of screens kids see in an hour, and it is astounding. They want micro-content feeds that let them dive into things and skip through other stuff,” said Hundgen.

In providing a discerning audience with material continuously, Disney will update the app with 100 to 120 new pieces of content per week, all of which is meant to be shared — whether it’s via a third-party social platform or with friends and family members via text. And DCPI has partnered with a Disney Channel team to create the content.

“‘Digitologists’ is what we call the team. These are internet experts—they have a Swiss Army knife-type of role in that they are writing, editing and producing, and are well-versed in the language of digital,” said Hundgen.

And, in continuing to speak to the digital space, Disney is also putting interactive content and short-form videos on the new Disney LOL portal and the new Mickey Video app.  On the web, the Disney LOL portal features interactive videos, games, memes, .gifs, micro-interactive pieces, jokes, trivia and polls.  The portal also offers branded or sponsored interactive content, including games and activities.

Meanwhile, the ad-supported Mickey Video app (also recently launched) features popular short-form content with run lengths up to five minutes. Content includes season three of Mickey Shorts (20 eps), classic Mickey cartoons, and curated collections and character pages, including Mickey, Minnie, Donald, Goofy and Pluto. Additionally, the app contains short-form content from Disney-Pixar, which is available for the iPhone, iPad and Apple TV.

“We live in a world now with many players and products that are leaning into video content,” said Hundgen. “We want to be there as well, and provide a Disney-quality experience across digital.”

To that end, there’s little doubt both Mickey Video and Disney LOL will be competing for eyeballs with other short-form content apps like Cartoon Network Anything, the kidnet’s mobile micro-network initiative that launched in October 2014 featuring a roulette-style blend of games, videos and activities.

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