May 16, 2007, 12:00 AM

Disney’s take on Apple’s iPod features online music and video store

Walt Disney Co. has developed an online store to sell music and videos for its proprietary media players. Disney also has rolled out an updated Disney Connection for high-speed broadband access that features games and content for different age groups.

Walt Disney Co. has developed an online store to sell music and videos for its proprietary media players in a format modeled on Apple Inc.’s iTunes web site and iPod players. The new site features music and video content for kids, but targets grownups as the buyers.

“We know that more and more kids are getting music online and we wanted to provide an easy, kid-focused environment where parents can download appropriate content just for their kids,” Chris Heatherly, vice president of global electronics for Disney consumer products, told Internet Retailer. The consumer products division includes Disney Shopping Inc., No. 60 in the Internet Retailer Top 500 Guide.

Owners of Disney’s Mix Stick and Mix Max players can download songs for 99 cents. Albums start at $9.99 and music videos are $1.99. The Mix Max player, released eight months ago, uses postage-stamp-sized memory cards with preloaded full-length movies that sell for $19.99. Film download prices have not been set. The players are priced at $49 for the Mix Stick and $99 for the Mix Max.

The Mix Central web site will offer podcasts, video clips and films from the company’s television and movie studios and songs from artists at its music labels. Customers also can download content from any Windows DRM 10 compatible store, such as Yahoo Music or Napster, Heatherly says. Music files are in the WMA format, governed by Digital Rights Management technology that protects copyrighted content by regulating playback.

In an effort to provide more interactive web-based content for children age 3 to 14 and their family, Disney Online, part of the Walt Disney Internet Group, unveiled a new version of Disney Connection. The updated version of the broadband service now includes single and multi-player games as well as specific content for different demographics.

In addition, for select Internet service affiliates, the new version will include full access to Playhouse Disney Preschool Time Online and Disney Game Kingdom Online, two of Disney’s premium subscription products, with a combined current retail value of $99.

Disney Connection is included for free in certain high-speed Internet service providers’ channel packages. Providers include Comcast, Mediacom and Verizon.

Disney Connection is advertising-free and features full-length episodes of TV shows from Disney Channel, Toon Disney and Playhouse Disney.

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