If you’re a father writing in the parenting blog or news universe, you might have felt a cold wind on your shoulder yesterday. If you were a mom, it may have been slightly warmer.
Movie, theme park and traditional-family-value giant Walt Disney Co. just acquired Babble Media Inc. for (reportedly) somewhere between $40 and $45 million. That’s a lot of zeroes.
Babble (sauced below/after the jump) was founded in 2006 by husband-and-wife team Rufus Griscom and Alisa Volkman. Originally, it was a part of Nerve Media’s family – the edgy and explicit Nerve.com self-described as “the cultural center of the internet for sex, love, and culture.” Babble broke off from Nerve in 2009. Babble currently snags 2.1 million monthly visitors, and according to Nielsen, about 483,000 of them are women with children ages 2 to 17.
“With more than 3.9 million mom blogs in the U.S. alone, Disney Interactive recognizes and values the important and powerful role moms have taken on in new media,” said Brooke Chaffin, Disney Interactive Media Group’s senior vice president of the “Moms and Family” division. Now there’s a name that really celebrates all parents!
In other words, sorry dads – you’re just not profitable yet.
Disney’s acquisition of Babble under their Moms and Family brand has some hard-working father-bloggers scratching their heads. Aaron Gouveia, for example, is a former Good Men Project editor, and current curator of The Daddy Files. He questioned the inclusiveness of Disney’s division: “‘Moms and Family’? How about just ‘Family’? I hope they follow Babble‘s lead and make a more concerted effort to include dads. The other thing is I hope that the acquisition doesn’t make Babble lose its edge.” Gouveia, whose Daddy Files website grabbed #50 on Babble‘s “Top 50 Dad Blogs,” brings up a point we’ll have to see to believe: Disney’s Chaffin stated plainly that the Babble staff won’t be required to promote Disney goods, because “If you try to censor them, you lose the essence of what they are.” We’ll see.
“I think its unfortunate that they are discounting Dads and our buying power and our decision making input, but many major brands do,” says Jim Turner, a father-blogger, radio host, and founder of the #DadsTalking hash conversation on Twitter. “Wheareas women continue to fight to be in the board room, men continue to fight to be considered a parent.” Turner also is also founder of One By One Media and Bloggers For Hire – so he knows a good blog deal when he sees it.
It’s no secret that Disney is a money-making company. With divisions slapping the Disney name across movies, theme parks, cruise ships, toys, video games, and most recently, newborn and infant clothing, no one would argue that Disney is bad at squeezing money out of families. Babble‘s proven its worth – as one of TIME Magazine‘s “50 Best Websites of 2010” and one of Forbes’ “Top 100 Websites for Women,” Disney’s got a lot of moms’ purses to rifle through. This is in addition to its other interests, such as the ABC Television Group.
And Disney’s not a noob to parenting sites either. In 2007, iParenting Media joined the Disney family, and in 2009, Kaboose, Inc., a Canadian mom-and-kid website company fell under the Mouse’s gaze for $18.4 million. As well, Disney’s recently brought in social gaming company Playdom, (for $763.2 million!), gaming start-up Rocket Pack, and TogetherVille, a social network for kids. Disney had even thought about purchasing now-competing mom-site CafeMom.
“It’s clear that Disney’s decision is one that will very publicly reinforce an already-difficult divider between gender stereotypes in parenting and, in effect, endorse one side and snub another. I think dads, as a collective, need to stand up and say, ‘Hey, wait a minute! I’m a parent, too,'” says Daniel Ruyter, owner of Memoirs of a Single Dad, and author of the ebook “Memoirs of a Dating Dad“. “…if we (dads) allow ourselves to be marginalized as parents like this, then we will have no one to blame but ourselves. I think it’s possible for all parents to be a part of the Disney brand, and by targeting ‘mom bloggers’ I think they’re missing out on a big portion of the new media pie.”
Ruyter acknowledges that companies “makes decisions based on dollars,” but says that their decision to specifically acknowledge the “powerful role moms have taken on in new media,” makes him wonder.
Us too, dad.
With the emergence of a more father-aware market, you’d wonder why Disney wouldn’t organically grow a brand for fathers as well, but you’re probably also not surprised that they didn’t.
It’s also of-note that Disney’s “Moms Panel” does allow men to join – which probably pissed them off something fancy, because they had to add quotes around “Moms” on their “Meet the ‘Moms’” section. The current panel is comprised of 75% women.
One of our man-crushes, Chris Illuminati, who has had articles in Ask Men, The Good Men Project, Asylum, Penthouse, and even Nerve, says that maybe it’s a good thing Disney isn’t gunning for dads just yet. “Well, Disney owns ESPN, which can’t even get men’s sports and entertainment correct, so imagine if they tried to appeal to dad bloggers.” ZING!
Bloomberg Business noted that Disney’s interactive media hasn’t been so hot lately. “For the fourth quarter through September, Disney reported that its interactive media group trimmed its loss to $94 million from $104 million a year ago,” said the anonymously written AP blurb. “It was the 12th straight quarterly loss since the division’s results began to be broken out in the company’s earnings. The division aims to be profitable by 2013.”
So, to summarize – making money is fair game. Moms are profitable. Disney is mom-centric. Dad reportedly makes more money in the workplace, but aren’t influential enough at home to be bankable.
If-and-when a wealthy Mouse shows up at 8BitDad with a checkbook, we’ll (probably) gladly sign on the dotted line.
Until then, we’ll be dining on s**t-sandwiches with the rest of the hard-working dad-bloggers, as the buck doesn’t stop here.