When Babble was founded in 2006, it was a destination for those uninterested in a glossy, powder pink or baby blue version of parenthood. Babble was about painful honesty and healthy cynicism. Posts tackled anxiety over sleepless nights, crying over having a boy instead of a girl, and finding children's books completely crappy. Babble's mission was "to tell the truth about parenting." But as of yesterday, Babble was sold to family-friendly corporate behemoth Disney. A literal Mickey Mouse operation. Can parents stay candid, raw and honest, or will the site undergo Disneyfication?
The Walt Disney Company owns several assets, including Touchstone Pictures, Hollywood Pictures, Pixar, Buena Vista, Hollywood Records, Walt Disney Records, ABC TV, the Disney Channe, SOAPnet, Lifetime, A&E, The History Channgel, The Biography Channel, Hyperion Books, 80% of ESPN, Marvel Entertainment and a smattering of websites, including Go.com, Muppets.com, ABC Family.com. Oscar.com and 27% of Hulu. Oh, and a bunch of themeparks. Basically, if it is entertaining and family-oriented (and not owned by NBC Universal), Disney has it or wants it.
But Babble began as an offshoot of Nerve.com, a very adult and sex-oriented site. It featured both mothers and fathers sharing first-person tales of parenting. Then, for a while, it seemed really mommy-oriented — the dad voices were not there, and it was a very female-centric community. Today, Babble launched Dadding, a channel just for stories by and about fathers. Yet! Disney's statement about acquiring Babble reads, in part:
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.
No mention of the dads! Time will tell what will become of Babble. But it seems like the site built its audience on an unvarnished tell-it-like-it-is perspective. What's the impact of being purchased by the glossiest company ever, headquarters of the Happiest Place On Earth™? Does going corporate prevent Babble from keeping it real?
Disney Acquires Parent Blogging Network [NYT/Dealbook]
Disney Buys 'Mom' Blogs, Plans to Integrate Content [WSJ]
Exclusive: Disney Acquires "Sophisticated" Mommy Blog Platform Babble Media [All Things D]