Playhouse Disney grows reach, plans to bring on partners

Astral Media's new children's programming channel won't be putting 30-second spots on the air, but marketing partnership plans are set to roll out soon.

Astral Media network Playhouse Disney, targeting kids aged 2-7, aims to bring on partners for integrated marketing opportunities by spring or summer of this year.

The company’s integrated solutions department will develop on-air and online promos for clients involved with Playhouse Disney. The aim is to mimic the success of creative solutions already practised on its commercial-free Family Channel, which has partnered with toy companies, studios (Disney, Fox, Universal) releasing DVDs and Nestle (for nutritional products and those that promote an active lifestyle to kids).

Neither Playhouse Disney nor Family Channel accepts 30-second brand-sell spots, but partnerships involving contests, interstitials and sponsored behind-the-scenes content – with lots of on-air throws to online and more elaborate partnership-related initiatives. Chapman says many of the Family Channel’s clients would likely be suitable for partnerships on Playhouse Disney, but current partners are watching how the new net’s viewership grows over the next few months.

‘We’re going to be very selective on partners for Playhouse, making sure that parents are happy with what we put in front of them or their children, while trying to create added value for our partners and our viewers,’ says Holly Chapman, director of Astral Media Integrated Solutions.

‘Basically, when partners want to talk to our demographic, we meet with the client and discuss what their objectives are, and also secure our objectives in terms of creating something that’s exciting and engaging for our viewers,’ adds Chapman.

‘Primarily, we’re speaking to mothers, so the messaging is geared to them,’ she adds. ‘If it is geared to our demo, we’re being very sensitive about using a message we are confident with – encouraging kids to be active, respecting the environment – which Disney has done very well on their Playhouse channel as well.’

The net, launched on Nov. 30, recently added about 600,000 subscribers (for a present reach of over one million), thanks to additional carrier deals with Cogeco Cable, Mountain Cablevision, Access Communications and SaskTel to service communities in Ontario and Saskatchewan. Those carriers join Bell ExpressVu in delivering the children’s programming to subscribers.

Playhouse Disney’s roster of children’s series includes Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, My Friends Tigger & Pooh, Little Einsteins, Johnny and the Sprites, Franny’s Feet, The Secret World of Benjamin Bear, Bunnytown and Handy Manny, to name a few.