Disney's Current Moves: The Bad, The Ugly, But Mostly The Good

Hand it to The Walt Disney Company: These days it is seemingly doing the right things at the right times for most--not all--of its customers.

Disney Channel's rating are up some 17 percent among kids 2-11 as it pulls closer to Nickelodeon with shows such as "High School Musical, "The Cheetah Girls," and "Hannah Montana."

ABC's prime-time ratings have opened the season winning the first handful of weeks among the key 18-49 viewers, thanks to "Desperate Housewives," "Grey's Anatomy," "Lost," "Dancing with the Stars," and "Ugly Betty."

Now Walt Disney theme parks want to do well inside little kids' tummies--especially when its name is attached. New guidelines will limit how much sugar, calories and fat could be in snacks and foods for companies that have Disney licensing deals.

This will be a radical change for the company that has marketed many of its movies--especially animated movies such as "Cars"--with the likes of McDonald's, Coca-Cola and Kellogg, companies which often sell high-fat, high-sugar food products.



But I did say Disney was pleasing most, not all, of its customers.

This was the same company, after all, that let ABC put on "The Path to 9/11," a TV show which missed on many fronts--not only with some viewers, who said the facts were wrong, but also with advertisers. ABC tried to sell the show with commercials but couldn't get any interest. Then, supposedly in a "public interest" move, the network said the show would be seen "advertising-free."

To a somewhat minor point, so far this season, several of ABC's new TV shows--"The Nine," "Six Degrees," and "Brothers & Sisters"--haven't fully lived up to their potential. Only "Ugly Betty," which doesn't have the benefit of any of the big three lead-ins-- "Housewives," "Lost," or "Grey's"-- has been able to live on its own terms.

Then again, ABC made the move to put college football on during the wasteland of Saturday night--a great idea. On the flip side, it got rid of the venerable TV brand name ABC Sports--a-not-so-good idea.

The bottom line: There is probably more good than bad for Disney.

For a media company, that's like being one or two strokes under par for the course, which is the minimum we can expect. This will allow Disney to keep its golf membership to our club for a while--the entertainment users club.

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