Ex-Disney Chief Building Video Kingdom Online

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Michael Eisner, the man who revived a struggling Walt Disney company in 1984 and prompted the development of hit animated features like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King, is now trying his hand at online video.

Eisner’s investment firm, the Tornante Company, has formed a new studio called Vuguru to produce video features for the Web. Vuguru’s first internet show, a mystery serial entitled Prom Queen, will debut on April 2, 2007. One 90-second episode will be released each day for 80 days on Vuguru.com, Ellegirl.com, the site of one of the show’s sponsors, and promqueen.tv, a site dedicated to the show which will also include forums and blogs. Episodes will also be distributed on video-sharing sites YouTube and Veoh. Eisner is a Veoh board member.

“There’s a new distribution platform that’s going to be ubiquitous, and that’s clearly broadband,” said Eisner in an interview first published in USA Today. He said that sharing sites like YouTube captured the “short-term” audience, but that “winning the marathon will be professionally produced, emotionally driven story content”–like Prom Queen.

The show will feature pre- and post-roll ads with product placements from Fiji Water, Pom Wonderful juices and Teleflora florists. According to USA Today, it’s difficult to find sponsors because produced online video is such a new medium and there are not yet any audience numbers to report.

“We’re making up our own rules as we go along,” admits Eisner. He hopes this new venture will help people see the business value of professionally produced online entertainment.

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