The Walt Disney Company (NYS: DIS) is teaming with Google-owned (NAS: GOOG) video platform YouTube to produce original web programming. The alliance will begin with an animated series based on the popular mobile game Where's My Water?, a fixture on Apple's (NAS: AAPL) App Store Paid Apps bestseller chart since launching two months ago.
The New York Times reports that Disney Interactive Media and YouTube will spend a combined $10 million to $15 million on an original series produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel across Disney.com and YouTube. The channel will also feature user-generated video selected from the YouTube upload torrent.
Disney is relying on the appeal and cachet of the YouTube brand to attract children moving away from the studio's own digital efforts: Disney Interactive Media has lost more than $300 million over the last four quarters, and Disney.com traffic plummeted from 17.9 million unique visitors in June to 12.7 million in September. "It's imperative to go where our audience is," Disney Interactive co-president James A. Pitaro tells the NYT, adding the company will "bring Disney's legacy of storytelling to a new generation of families and Disney enthusiasts on the platforms they prefer."
At the same time, the Disney partnership promises to improve YouTube's reputation among parents put off by the site's sometimes provocative content and raw user comments. YouTube has also stated it wishes to offer more professional video content, although Hollywood studios have been reluctant to provide free material.
Where's My Water? (named one of the best new apps of Sept. 2011 by FierceMobileContent), developed by the creators of the blockbuster JellyCar, is a multitouch-enabled puzzle game starring Swampy the Alligator, a clean freak whose eccentricities earn him the enmity of his fellow gators. Swampy's enemies conspire to halt his water supply, and gamers must help restore the water flow to his shower, digging pipelines into his underground home while avoiding algae, ooze and other contaminants.
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