It could have been a frantic couple of hours for Disney engineers early Sunday morning as company Web sites went offline, costing ad impressions and impacting other revenues.
The sites that went out included those linked with some of the top TV brands: ESPN.com and ABC.com.
Representatives for Disney and ESPN did not immediately provide information on what caused the apparent trouble, be it a security breach or another problem. Though unlikely, it could have been planned system maintenance.
Sony’s PlayStation online network was the subject of hacking and the company shut it down last week.
Notably, the Disney blackout happened as viewers were watching a live simulcast of an NBA playoff game on ESPN3.com.
The darkness also knocked out any streaming of episodes on ABC.com, from “Grey’s Anatomy” to “Modern Family,” and apparently interaction with Zack and Cody on the Disney Channel site.
Yet, beyond advertising, opportunities for online bookings at Disneyland – maybe for an Easter Sunday visit -- or a Disney cruise vacation also appear to have also been halted.
Disney company sites run on an integrated Go.com backbone.
The blackout lasted about two hours (an eternity in today’s Web world). The darkness started as Saturday crossed into Sunday in the Eastern time zone, ending near 2 a.m. Sunday morning.
Word spreads fast on the Twitter-sphere these days when a site as heavily visited and, with as passionate an audience as ESPN.com, goes down. Discussion started almost immediately as tweeters began asking if others were having trouble accessing ESPN.com.
One ESPN.com competitor – Yahoo sports columnist Dan Wetzel – weighed in with a tongue-in-cheek: “I hear ESPN.com is down? Damn, hope it’s nothing minor.”
ESPN.com had some 2.4 billion page views in March, a 66% increase over the same month in 2010, according to comScore.
The ABC.com and Disney Channel Web site receive fewer page views than ESPN.com, according to comScore. In March, ABC.com came in at 158 million and Disney Channel was at 62 million.
The issue comes as Nielsen reports Americans visiting sites affiliated with on-air brands is booming. In January, 40% of Americans active online, about 80 million, visited a TV network or media broadcast site.
There may have been one silver lining as the trouble ensued. ESPN’s media relations Web site withstood the problems, remaining functional and informing reporters that ESPN plans major NFL draft coverage and Corona will be a boxing sponsor.
Maybe once the media made out better than the public.