Disney Sheds Light on Maker Studios' Future: Making Things for Disney

Will Mostly Serve as Distribution Platform for Company -- at First

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Maker Studios' biggest star: PewDiePie.
Maker Studios' biggest star: PewDiePie.

Walt Disney provided an update Wednesday on just how multi-channel YouTube network Maker Studios will fit in at the media behemoth, which also owns all kinds of major media properties, from "Star Wars" to Marvel.

Maker, which Disney purchased in April for reportedly more than $500 million, is expected to enhance the company's distribution, particularly to millennial viewers, said Jay Rasulo, chief financial officer, speaking at Goldman Sachs' annual media conference on Wednesday.

Maker Studios currently has 9 billion monthly views on YouTube and over 450 million subscribers to its channels, Mr. Rasulo noted. "So we saw that as a very, very obvious way for us to get out content into this short-form system, and into this digital media system, in a rapid way, rather than to try to build that organically," he said.

Mr. Rasulo said it isn't necessarily natural for big, long-form companies to produce short-form content, which he said Disney hasn't even "scratched the surface on."

That could take the form of existing Disney property, at least in the beginning. "We expect that Maker is going to be the fundamental driving force in the company for taking that library content into the next step whether that's ESPN library content, Disney Channel library content, the ABC local station content, the ABC Network content, all of that stuff can be reformatted and reused in short forms," Mr. Rasulo said.

But long-term Mr. Rasulo said Maker Studios will be a "big studio" akin to Marvel, LucasFilm and Disney Animation and ultimately be a content creator for the company.

Since Disney acquired Maker Studios, its monthly views have gone from 4 billion to 9 billion, Mr. Rasulo said.

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