Media & Entertainment

Disney quietly shut down Babble, the parenting blog it once acquired for $40M

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As Disney gets closer to launching a shiny new video service and continues to ramp up efforts in other new streaming areas like gaming, it looks like it might be winding down one of its more legacy bets. Babble, a parenting blog that Disney acquired reportedly for about $40 million to help it target hipster parents, quietly ceased publishing in the middle of December, TechCrunch has learned.

“For everything there is a season, and after more than a decade of serving as a community and resource for parents, Babble will be saying goodbye,” reads a post from the site’s editors. “To all the moms, dads, family, friends, writers, and readers who supported us – thank you. We are so grateful for the time spent sharing your stories and your lives, through all the ups and downs of raising tiny humans.”

When Disney acquired Babble — originally spun out from a (now-defunct) dating website called Nerve.com — in 2011, it was part of a bigger push at the media giant to built up a stock of content properties to target younger parents, the kind that turn to online media for parenting advice and inspiration.

The idea was that Disney would populate the site with lots of evergreen content aimed at savvy middle class parents — recent articles included a post on soft-serve pickle-flavored ice cream and kids nailing 80s-style Halloween costumes — to help it build a connection to these consumers that would lead, over time, to trusting and using and exposing kids to other Disney products as they grew up.

But times have changed. The Disney Interactive Media Group that housed Babble doesn’t exist as such anymore — and Babble’s two founders, Rufus Griscom and Alicia Volkman, moved on years ago from Disney.

And while (I’ve been told) hipster parents definitely still do turn to digital media to answer questions, get inspiration, or just waste time under the guise of doing something constructive, I don’t think that their focus has consolidated on a single destination to do that, but rather a plethora of sources that include other parenting-focused blogs, BuzzFeed-style viral sites that source stories from whatever is trending on social media, YouTube, apps like Pinterest and Facebook and more.

Sometimes, parents even meet other parents in real life, and talk and listen to each other that way.

It’s also not clear how much Disney had been investing in building out the Babble brand and site over the years. When it was acquired, it was on a growth tear, expanding 100 percent year over year with 4 million uniques. However, it hasn’t had much buzz or evolution since.

We’ve reached out to Disney to ask for more details, but in any case, this is far from being one of the biggest acquisitions to get shuttered by the company after things fizzled out. Club Penguin, a kids-focused gaming platform Disney acquired for around $700 million, shut down its main site in 2017, and its remaining app last year.

Update: It’s as I suspected at the top. The choice to shut this down coincided with Disney’s upcoming Disney+ launch. From a spokesperson:

“As Disney Digital Network evolves to support the launch of Disney’s upcoming streaming service, Disney+, Babble.com ceased to update editorial content as of December 14, 2018. For fresh Disney-themed family crafts, recipes and activities, visit Disney Family at disney.com/family. For authentic parenting news, stories and videos, visit GoodMorningAmerica.com/Family.”

Out with the old, in with the new!

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