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Disney to Launch Slick Family “Portal” March 14, 2007

Posted by David Card in Media.
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Disney introduced the concept of its new Family.com site yesterday. (The site itself isn’t live as of this writing, though I was expecting it this week.) It looks to be a very polished, even slick, combination of professional and consumer-created content and community for moms. It’s very “on-trend” in its embrace of content aggregation and social media, if surprisingly short on video. And where’s GMA and The View?

Intriguingly, Disney Family seeded a Family 1000 index of professional and semi-pro sites, and user participation and recommendation should refine that collection over time. The company also plans to organize relevant content with an editorial hand, so that “reward systems” could appear if you’re looking into, say, handling a temper tantrum.

I like Disney’s chances with this audience. It’s not like they’re not in the space already. The combination of parenting, food, entertainment, etc. makes logical sense. (And a couponing section is brilliant.) Health and community is tricky, but potentially powerful. But it’s not like there isn’t competition out there — iVillage, Yahoo, and AOL are very good at this type of thing. Disney thinks the combination — it doesn’t say “portal” — will feed itself, and that may be true. It’s certainly advertiser-friendly.

Jupiter surveys show that over a third of online adults agree that they prefer specialist sites over general-purpose portals. But, perhaps counter-intuitively, the heaviest portal users are more likely to say this than lighter users. It’s critical, even for a media powerhouse like Disney, to develop strategies that co-exist with and complement existing portal usage.

Rival analyst Charlene Li likes Disney Family, too. She seems to operate under slightly different NDA rules than I do. Or maybe I’m just lazy.

UPDATED: Oops, checking my notes, I see Disney promised a preview this week, with the site to launch in April.

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