CES: Disney's Iger Wows the Crowd, Unveils New Website

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Content companies that take the stage at the CES show in Las Vegas are expected to bring a little bit of show-biz razzle-dazzle to the annual consumer electronics gathering, and Disney CEO Bob Iger didn’t disappoint in his keynote address Monday night.

After a video introduction by CEA chief Gary Shapiro that spoofed ESPN’s Monday Night Football show open and a taped lead-in from the MNF broadcast crew of Mike Tirico, Joe Theismann and Tony Kornheiser, Iger’s “Monday Night Keynote” featured clips of popular Disney content playing on various platforms and stage visits from Tirico, Lost stars Evangeline Lily and Matthew Fox, and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer. Along the way, Iger also broke a little news, officially introducing Disney’s next-generation Website, Disney.com.

While Disney’s existing Website is already the No. 1 online entertainment destination for kids and families, with some 25 million unique visitors each month, Iger said it was basically a “site map” for Disney content and needed an upgrade for today’s broadband consumers. The new Disney.com is a video-rich version that will allow Disney fans of various ages to access content from the company’s myriad television, film, music and gaming properties in one place

“We believe Disney as a company has to serve the interests of broadband users by offering a robust and deep entertainment experience,” says Iger. “This will be the digital doorway into Disney, both a destination and portal into a vibrant entertainment experience. You’re only one click away from all things Disney, wherever you go.”

Iger and Disney Online EVP and managing director Paul Yanover then demonstrated the Website’s new features to the packed CES crowd. The site will always have full-motion video on the home page, such as clips from popular TV shows like Hannah Montana, in order to offer an immediate immersive experience. It will also allow kids to create their own customized programming channels by dragging TV shows, movie clips, games and music to their own “backpack.” Another big feature will be rewards-based games that allow kids to build status within their own online community.

Kids can navigate through the new Disney.com either by category, such as TV, music, movies and games; or by character, such as “Captain Jack Sparrow” or “Tinkerbell.” The look of the site can be modified to suit different ages and genders by a single click, and parents are able to create family accounts and create age-appropriate levels of online chat contact.

Yanover also unveiled a new feature called “Disney XD,” or Disney Xtreme Digital, that allows children to multi-task at a high level by simultaneously watching a TV show, playing a game and engaging in online chat, based on their own content choices. Yanover also gave a sneak peak of a Disney’s new massively multiplayer online game, “Pirates of Caribbean Online.”

Disney generated over $500 million in Web revenues across all its properties in 2006, says Walt Disney Internet Group president Steve Wadsworth, without counting theme park ticket sales, which generated another half-billion dollars. Wadsworth, who teamed with Yanover to give a press preview of the new Disney.com before Iger’s speech, says the new Disney.com’s immersive environment and personalization capabilities should help Disney grow advertising through increased traffic, increased time spent online and new advertising offerings; reap revenues from paid-product offerings with subscription, digital downloads and virtual goods; and generate increased business from online shopping and travel reservations.

Cross-navigation and cross-promotion between different Disney properties will also be a key feature of the new Website, adds Wadsworth.

“The whole idea here is to take everything we’ve got in these categories and aggregate it in one place,” he says.

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