Disney Owns the World – and the Web by Christian Steiner

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Your favorite superheroes (assuming they’re from Marvel), Jedi, and now YouTubers are all brought to you by Disney. Gone are the olden days of mice and hyper-aggressive ducks; now we are in the era of web-heads and web-stars for Disney.

In recent years, Disney has bought not one, but two gargantuan names in entertainment. George Lucas sold Disney the rights to Lucasfilms and, in direct relation, Star Wars. Let’s face it, this was probably for the best, considering Lucas hasn’t cared about the license or for anything that wasn’t beneficial economically since the Ewoks and the prequels. And Disney filled his well-oiled wallet up with a whole $4.05 billion more for the franchise he so willingly dismissed!

For $4.2 billion dollars, Disney also acquired Marvel in 2009. Take that, George Lucas! Disney obviously understands their audience and what they’re looking for. They have amazing foresight, and critics who have called Disney’s latest purchase “questionable” are probably wrong.

On Monday, March 24th, Disney purchased Maker Studios. Now I know what you’re thinking: “What the heck is Maker Studios?” Maker Studios is a company that fathers multiple channels on YouTube. Now that gets you wondering, “YouTube? What does Disney have to do with YouTube?” Well young Padawan, Disney sees where the market is heading. And that’s to digital media.

Famous YouTuber and cofounder of the company Roosterteeth, Burnie Burns, recently said in his podcast, “My kids don’t watch any TV… I think [that for] anyone below the age of 12, a cable box or TV experience is nonexistent. If they could, at all times, they would have YouTube up, or a game they could play.”

Burnie knows that in the near future, TV is effaced from this world, and digital mediums are where the real money is at. As teenagers, a good majority of us will have the TV on, but it merely serves as background noise to something we’re doing on our laptops or phones. Eventually, we’ll stop wasting energy and get rid of TV as a whole.

Maker Studios is a multi-channel network (MCN); in fact, Maker Studio is more like a grandparent company that owns smaller companies that oversee individual YouTubers. Sub-networks like Polaris who actually parent huge web-stars like the Game Grumps, the Yogscast crew, and even the most subscribed to YouTuber in the world, Pewdiepie – who currently has 25 million subscribers.

And those are just gaming commentators! Maker Studios also parents non-niche networks like the massively popular Epic Rap Battles of History crew, who average 30 million views a video. They even host celebrity channels like Snoop Lion’s channel, WestFestTV, and Robert De Niro’s Tribeca Enterprises account.

As of December 2012, Maker Studios is the number two ranked independent Network on YouTube – they were number one until FullScreen surpassed them. And now, they are owned by the House of Mouse. Whoever manages marketing at Disney deserves a raise!

“What Disney has to gain is the same thing they have to gain from owning ABC and ESPN,” said media buyer Eric Lopez. “The only difference is that they are infiltrating a growing market at the right time. Control and foresight is key to maintaining dominance; otherwise, big companies will fall off, even Disney.”

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