If Disney builds it, will kids come?

January 10, 2007

CEO Bob Iger showed off a new Disney.com this week, with a launch expected this quarter. The site will contain social networking aspects, letting users chat, watch videos, play games and create playlists. Pages can be customized for users according to factors like age or gender. A feature called Disney Xtreme Digital will let users make and share profiles, Red Herring reported.

A multi-player game based on the popular “Pirates of the Caribbean” movies will be launched on the site this spring and open to free play, according to paidContent.org. Other worlds based on the company’s properties are planned, Iger said, bringing to mind an online version of Disney’s theme parks.

Disney’s existing site is already popular with kids and their parents, but it remains to be seen whether the new portal will expand on that. As paidContent.org put it, the question is “Will they want to make Disney.com a virtual home or will it just be someplace to visit?”

Preteens like Disney properties like “Cheetah Girls” and “Hannah Montana” but might not favor the parent controls the new site will feature. Red Herring compared Disney’s venture to Wal-Mart’s short-lived The Hub and said some believe that site was shut down because tweens didn’t want a controlled social networking experience.

 

(Photo: President and CEO of The Walt Disney Company Robert Iger/REUTERS)

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