Disney to unveil new cartoon spaghetti western series on tablets before cable TV


Disney is after your kids’ tablets. The entertainment megalith will unveil a cartoon spaghetti western series on tablets before cable. ‘Sheriff Callie West,’ a female animated character (pictured top of post) the Mickey Mouse house hopes will become the next Hello Kitty merchandising bonanza, will be unveiled on the Watch Disney Junior app November 24.

The series will then appear later in 2014 on cable’s Disney Junior. The move is a recognition that children increasingly are turning to the iPad and other tablets for entertainment. Both Disney and Apple have deep ties. Not only is the entertainment giant’s CEO Bob Iger on Apple’s board of directors, but the Steve Jobs trust has a large stake in Disney…

After being downloaded more than 5 million times, the Disney Junior app has shown more than 650 million video clips, according to the company. “We have been amazed at how quickly kids have embraced this new technology,” Disney Junior Worldwide executive vice president Nancy Kanter told the New York Times.

Indeed, the iPad was the gift item on many children’s most-wanted list during Christmas 2012. As kids increasingly pick up tablets, the U.S. government has urged greater attention to privacy, as well.

However, all is not well with the magic kingdom when it comes to tablets. We reported earlier this month that a number of Disney and Pixar movies have vanished from iTunes, potentially due to licensing issues.

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According to the Times, more than half of kids now own a tablet, up 40 percent since just 2012. Both the size of the devices and the tactile interface make them perfect for young children. Yet, they also make the perfect marketing tool for media companies, such as Disney. Kantar voiced awe at the billions of minutes children age 2 to 7 spend on tablets.

“We get lots of e-mails from dads saying ‘Thanks for giving me back my TV,'” Albert Cheng, Disney-ABC Television Group’s media guru, told the Times. In other words, Disney wants to be your children’s baby-sitter.

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Perhaps even more insidious is Disney’s plan to allow kids to become “binge viewers” of its new show. Just like Netflix fans can watch a whole season of  “House of Cards”, children can watch all episodes of the cartoon cat “Sheriff Callie” and her spaghetti lasso.

Of course, Disney is not alone in pursuing your kid’s iPad. Nickelodeon, part of the vast Viacom media empire, recently won an Emmy for its use of apps and other interactive programming. Disney is taking a page, offering children a way to use their tablet to participate in Disney Junior programming.

The larger reason for the increased emphasis on tablet programming is both the move away from the television as the “first screen” and the exit of cable viewers for Netflix and other streaming alternatives. Disney and others hope so-called TV Everywhere strategies can shore up the siphoning of both revenue streams.

Th catch: to watch the Disney programming on tablets, parents must subscribe to Disney Junior on cable. The next step in bringing media to tablets will be for a Netflix-like play, producing quality entertainment solely for the iPad. All of which may make Steve Jobs – who envisioned the iPad as the perfect learning tool – spin in his grave.