Disney int'l TV to work with Microsoft MSN

European agreement unveiled at MIPCOM

CANNES -- Disney-ABC-ESPN Television, the international distribution arm of the Burbank-based Mouse House, will unveil Monday its first European agreement to offer content to Microsoft's MSN video viewers across Europe.

The partnership covers two short-form scripted comedy series - "Squeegees" and "Voicemail."

The deal is one of several that the Disney company will be talking about here at the MIPCOM TV trade show, it being one of the more press-friendly Hollywood congloms  when it comes to releasing details about its foreign TV deals.

The agreement, which is Disney-ABC-ESPN TV's first Europe-wide distribution deal for its Stage 9 Digital Media unit, reflects the growing popularity of the Internet as an entertainment and video platform. Financial details of the deal, however, were not forthcoming.

In any case, Hollywood studios such as Disney are increasingly producing content specifically for the Internet and partnering with established Web brands such as MSN to connect with their audiences and advertiser base across multiple platforms.

Geoff Sutton, general manager of MSN Europe, said, "People are changing the way they consume media - they love the way they can snack on content online and spend time with quick fix entertainment just like Squeegees and Voicemail that we're offering as part of today's announcement."

Disney's Media Networks president Ben Pyne added that the Mouse House was bent on "working with international partners, like MSN, who are equally strong in the new media space to make our content easily available globally to the digital generation."

The series "Squeegees" will be available on MSN in the U.K. beginning today with availability in France, Germany, Spain and Sweden following shortly, along with "Voicemail."

In other Disney news from the Croisette in Cannes, primetime series "Ugly Betty" will continue to be available to Canadian viewers following the conclusion of an advertising-funded video-on-demand agreement between Disney-ABC-ESPN TV and Canada's CityTV.

Episodes of season three will be available via the broadcaster's Web site 24 hours after it has been broadcast on CityTV's over-the-air service.

And, finally, the Mouse House has concluded multiple content agreements with Polish broadcaster TVP, which include the Disney Channel's "Camp Rock," "High School Musical" and "High School Musical 2."

The two companies also closed an agreement for TVP to license the complete collection of Pixar Animation short films, which include recent short "Presto," the tale of a magician's rabbit who turns the tricks on his master after he fails to feed him.
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