Maker Studios to Create Disney TV Shows With Online Stars

Maker Studios, the online video network owned by Walt Disney Co., will produce its first television programs, using its stars and YouTube clips to create TV specials for the parent company.

Maker, acquired by Disney in May, will produce a Halloween-themed show for Disney Channel and a prank show for Disney XD, according to a statement today. Performers from Maker’s network of 55,000 video creators will co-host the specials with stars of Disney Channel programs.

Disney is moving to integrate Maker, purchased for as much as $950 million, into its portfolio of entertainment properties. Maker has already used its social-media and online marketing skills to expand the audience for Disney programs on Google Inc.’s YouTube. With the Disney XD shows, Maker’s network of talent and its video library gain access to Disney’s TV distribution might.

“The Maker content catalog is primed for television -- with hundreds of thousands of videos created around trends and themes,” Gabriel Lewis, executive vice president of development and strategy at Maker Studios, said in the statement.

Disney paid $500 million for Maker with additional payments that could reach $950 million. Since then it has added channels including ABC News and ABC Family, helping to propel it past Vevo as the top YouTube partner by unique viewers, according to ComScore.

The specials, branded “Maker blocks,” will showcase existing videos from Maker creators, as well as vignettes produced for the shows.

Maker will employ local talent and clips from across the globe for different markets. Disney and Maker are developing additional concepts for television.

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