“Disney has never done this before,” Aliyah says during an interview in between sponsorship gigs and attending the NAACP Image Awards. “Just like ‘Mickey Mouse Club’ was its first-ever TV show, this is its first-ever digital series. Everything is online.”

“Club Mickey” is made for younger generations. Many episodes run under a minute in length, and none has reached five minutes. “Our attention spans are shorter,” Aliyah says. “So you watch it on the go. It travels with you.”

Disney intends to create a lot more like it.

Protection money

Disney, like most studios and networks, has seen audiences hit play on digital screens and back away from the cable box. Since 2012, for example, the Disney Channel’s pay-TV subscribers has fallen 12 percent to 90 million from 102 million. Sibling ESPN saw the same percentage drop. And the consumers that Disney wants to sign up for the new “Club Mickey,” members of Gen Z, represent—along with younger millennials—half of the “cord-never” population, meaning they have never paid for cable, according to SNL Kagan’s market intelligence report from 2017. It’s no wonder that Disney would experiment with new ways to present its content.

What’s striking is Disney’s commitment to Facebook, a platform that can drive publishers crazy with its ability to mediate their access to digital viewers. Meanwhile, Disney could benefit from the arrangement, taking what it learns from Facebook and its mastery of data, and applying this to its own digital properties, like the streaming service it’s launching to rival Netflix.


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