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HEARD ON THE BEAT

M-I-C, K-E-Y--Why? Because It's Disney

March 31, 1997|KAREN KAPLAN

In what may be an important new test of people's willingness to pay for Internet information and entertainment, Walt Disney Co. next month will launch a paid Web site for kids called Disney's Daily Blast.

The site will target children between the ages of 3 and 12 with a smorgasbord of games, stories, news quizzes, comic books and other activities. Not surprisingly, much of the content will be based on well-known Disney characters such as Mickey Mouse and Aladdin, but the site will also feature several sections designed from scratch.

Disney plans to charge $4.95 a month, or $39.95 a year, for a subscription to Daily Blast. Even though there are thus far hardly any consumer Web sites that make money with subscriptions, Disney Online President Jake Winebaum is confident that parents will be willing to spend money for quality family programming on the Internet.

Even if they aren't, a deal with Microsoft Network will guarantee Disney at least 2 million customers. MSN will showcase Daily Blast as its new Channel 6, the online area that is home to its children's shows, said Jeff Sanderson, the network's general manager.

The MSN-Daily Blast relationship will be exclusive for the first 10 months. After that, MSN will continue to carry the Disney site for at least an additional year, although rival networks could pick it then up as well. (Subscribers can also access Daily Blast directly at http://www.disneyblast.com.) MSN will pay Disney for use of the Daily Blast content, and both companies will contribute to the marketing effort, Winebaum said.

Although only one in every three households has a personal computer, 60% of homes with children between the ages of 3 and 12 have PCs, Winebaum said. That makes for a market Disney can't resist, and the company wants to reach them sooner rather than later.

"These kids have grown up with PCs, and for them computers are completely second nature," said Winebaum, the father of two Internet Generation children. "They will own this medium."

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