Disney Readies Children's Advertising-Supported Podcasts

Content Shifted from Network to Create iPod and MP3 Downloads

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NEW YORK (AdAge.com) -- Radio Disney's first 10 years have taken it from broadcast to content on satellite radio, cable TV and video-on-demand. Now coming this June: ad-supported podcasts.

Video-game maker THQ is among the first marketers to but into Disney's ad-support podcasts for the 6-to-14-year-old set. The ad insertions start in June.

In its push to reach 6-to-14-year-olds when they're not listening to the radio, Radio Disney offers content downloadable to MP3 players. The "Radio Disney Now!" podcasts started with content time-shifted from the network, but now feature material created specifically for podcasting.

Multiple platforms
From the start, the goal wasn't to create programming solely for radio, says Jean-Paul Colaco, president-general manager of Radio Disney Worldwide. Instead, executives and content creators were developing a brand that could be ported to other media platforms.

"The buzz around podcasts has been that we're just in the infancy stages from a usage and programming perspective," says Evan Harrison, exec VP at Clear Channel Radio.

Traditional radio properties are beginning to realize that podcasts could deepen their listeners' relationships with over-the-air stations. Radio Disney says there have been about 170,000 downloads of its podcasts, which so far haven't included advertising. When it began the podcasts last year, Radio Disney knew its listeners were already coming to the Web site looking for more content. Because of this strong listener connection, the idea of selling podcasts to Disney's advertisers isn't such a difficult proposition, says Mr. Colaco.

Advertisers' strategy
"For our advertisers, podcasting is just a part of an overall strategy they make with their brand," he says. "It's taking all the pieces and maximizes the impact."

Plans to insert advertising come at a good time. The recent iTunes soundtrack explosion triggered by Walt Disney Co.'s "High School Musical" no doubt is creating a halo effect for Disney properties as it involves the likes of Gabriella and Ryan in other Mouse properties.

Starting in June, Radio Disney will insert ads into its weekly podcasts over periods such as a month. Video-game maker THQ is among the first to sign on.

The upshot for the kids market: There's a potentially big demand but little from known content brands that are a parent's first choice, says Jeff Minsky, director-emerging platforms, OMD Digital, New York. "Kids are more likely to download podcasts from well-known brands," he says. "And we know it probably won't be the kids who are doing the downloading. Parents are going to be gravitating toward safe brands, and ... advertisers will, too."

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