Disney lifts Stage 9 curtain


NEW YORK -- After months of delays, the Disney-ABC Television Group on Thursday took the wraps off its Stage 9 digital studio.

In a departure from ABC's strategy of keeping its content on mainly Disney-owned properties, Stage 9 will be distributed via Google's YouTube along with ABC.com.

"They see that we've got a really great community," said Jordan Hoffner, head of content partnerships at YouTube. "We present great opportunities to monetize the content. When you're a startup within the larger organization, you really have to think that way."

ABC also reached an agreement with AOL last year to showcase its primetime shows on the Time Warner-owned portal.

Stage 9's debut series is "Squeegees," a shortform series from comedy team Handsome Donkey about the lives of window washers. The studio has a slate of more than 20 other original programs in the comedy, reality, drama and animation genres, including "Voicemail 2," the sequel to ABC.com's first original shortform series that rolled out in March 2007.

Although Disney never officially announced the formation of the unit, Stage 9 has been in operation since February 2007. Sources indicated that the latest delay in the proper launch was because of the recently concluded writers strike.

Handsome Donkey is repped by UTAOnline, the Internet-focused division of UTA.