"ABC has been the real leader here," says Will Richmond, founder of Broadband Directions, a market-intelligence firm. "They're pushing into uncharted territory." That explains what Anne Sweeney, the co-chairman of Disney Media Networks and president of Disney-ABC Television Group, calls the company's unofficial mantra: Create what's next. And that's where Cheng's team comes in. "We've aggregated all the great thinkers and fast movers in this group," she says. "It's a lab."
Disney's digital startup is turning the conventional television network into what Cheng calls a "branded multiplatform ecosystem." In the process, it is changing TV viewing as we know it. You can gather online in private TV rooms to watch the teen drama Wildfire; compete in online fantasy leagues around the cads and prima donnas on daytime soaps; vote online for plot points in the High School Musical sequel (43 million votes tallied); or read the Grey's Anatomy staff blog. ("Let me tell you," one of the show's writers begins, "the day after we see Izzie and George have sex is a pretty frightening time to come on here and try to explain why.... We know you're shocked. We hear you.") The new platforms are also inspiring new types of content, like the online mini-telenovelas spun off from Ugly Betty, one of ABC's prime-time hits.
Tuesday, May 22, 2007
On the heels of our final exam, this Fast Company article is a good profile of Disney's efforts to adapt to the digital age. It profiles Albert Cheng, the executive vice president of digital media, and talks about his efforts to turn Disney into a leader in the digital entertainment world.