Disney Scores Content Deal with BellSouth

The Walt Disney Co.’s embattled Internet unit will syndicate its content to BellSouth for use on the telecom giant’s portal, in a deal that continues Disney’s efforts at syndicating its content.

Through the agreement, a variety of North Hollywood, Calif.-based Walt Disney Internet Group content and commerce offerings, including text and multimedia from ABC.com, ABCNews.com, Disney.com, and FamilyFun.com, will appear on Atlanta-based BellSouth’s home.bellsouth.net site, the landing page for many of its one million DSL and dialup subscribers.

In addition, links to Disney-operated e-commerce sites — like Disney Store and Disney Vacations — are included in the deal. Visitors also will be able to sign up for WDIG subscription services, including Disney’s Blast.

BellSouth said the new content would make its broadband offerings more attractive to users, which is becoming crucial as the Baby Bell seeks to boost income while trimming losses. (The telecom player recently slashed staff at its call centers after posting lower profits on slowing sales of basic telephone lines.)

“Our Internet portal offers BellSouth Internet Services dial-up and BellSouth FastAccess DSL customers the best of the Web, and this agreement with Walt Disney Internet Group provides more of what they want most — news, entertainment and family-oriented content,” said Tim Hill, director of portal services at BellSouth Internet Services. “In addition, by augmenting our existing online offerings with Disney and ABC content that includes streaming video, we further demonstrate to our customers the benefits of broadband.”

Meanwhile, WDIG’s efforts to expand its content distribution come at a time when the unit — like many players in online media — is being buffeted by the downturn in advertising revenue. That downturn led directly to the firm’s choice last year to seriously cut back on its Go.com portal. However, publishers like Ask Jeeves, MarketWatch.com and Salon.com have turned to content syndication, which has proven a way to supplement shortfalls in advertising.

In recent months, WDIG has been following suit. The company has signed distribution agreements with RealNetworks, and wireless deals with General Motors’ OnStar service, Deutsche Telekom’s T-Motion, South Korean mobile operator SK Telecom Co. Ltd, and KDDI in Japan.

“This relationship [with BellSouth] reinforces our commitment to delivering Disney and ABC content across a variety of distribution media,” said Larry Shapiro, executive vice president of business development and operations at Walt Disney Internet Group. “We’re pleased to align ourselves with a leading Internet and DSL provider … In particular, we believe that our rich video and audio content will be well received by BellSouth’s customers and more consumers than ever will interact daily with our content.”

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