LOS ANGELES — Walt Disney Co. and YouTube are betting that a new partnership will help them surmount separate but equally worrisome hurdles as each strives for greater Web dominance.
The deal is small on its surface: Disney Interactive Media and YouTube, a division of Google, will spend a combined $10 million to $15 million on original video series; those shorts will be produced by Disney and distributed on a co-branded channel on Disney.com and YouTube. The channel will also include amateur video culled from the torrent uploaded to YouTube daily.
But the alliance is striking because of what it tacitly acknowledges about each company's weaknesses.
Disney, which is working on yet another overhaul of its website, is conceding that its own brand is not a powerful enough draw among children looking for video online; YouTube is viewed as being cooler.
So in a reversal of a go-it-alone Web strategy, Disney will go fishing for youngsters on YouTube in addition to making YouTube a prominent part of its own site — something the company hopes will coax children to stay longer.
"It's imperative to go where our audience is," said James A. Pitaro, co-president of Disney Interactive. He added that the idea is to "bring Disney's legacy of storytelling to a new generation of families and Disney enthusiasts on the platforms they prefer."
YouTube hopes to gain something from the Disney brand as well: credibility among parents, many of whom aren't thrilled about setting their younger children loose on a site where the videos can be provocative and the comments more so. The company wants to compete with cable television for ad dollars by adding more professional videos.
"It's an acknowledgment that we want to work with the best brands, and, yes, we expect this partnership to attract new advertisers," said Robert Kyncl, YouTube's global head for content partnerships.
Disney is an important ally for YouTube, which walks a careful line when it comes to attracting children; there is no age requirement to access the site, but you are supposed to be at least 13 to register for an account. YouTube also needs Disney because it remains locked in a legal battle with Viacom, which owns the other major player in this arena, Nickelodeon, and keeps its videos — aside from some promotional material — off YouTube.