Keynote: Disney’s Alyssa Sapire


Alyssa Sapire, senior VP for development, series and strategy at Disney Jr., spoke at the TV Kids Summer Festival today about the brand’s mission in serving preschool audiences.

Sapire took part in a keynote conversation with TV Kids’ Anna Carugati that can be viewed in its entirety here.

Disney Jr. is part of the Disney Branded Television portfolio under the leadership of Ayo Davis. “Disney Jr. is the preschool brand for The Walt Disney Company and the first touchpoint for that lifelong relationship with Disney,” Sapire said. “We are careful about making sure that our stories are filled with signature qualities: magic, wonder, adventure and heart. We ensure that our characters are relatable and funny. We want young viewers to connect to our stories, to see themselves in our characters—who have a range of real emotions and experiences that kids can relate to—and also get a window into how others navigate relationships and emotions. Our characters are largely curious, optimistic and joyful; that’s a very real reflection of where preschoolers are at.”

Disney Jr. is tapping into the wealth of beloved IP at Disney, Sapire noted. “Disney Jr. is the only brand within The Walt Disney Company that brings together all of the company’s most iconic characters under one umbrella. We get to adapt iconic IP from Marvel to Lucasfilm to Disney Princesses and Pixar, reimagining the stories and characters for a preschool audience. We make the characters younger and more relatable to our audience. When kids see characters as kids themselves, like a young Spidey or a young Ariel, they relate that much more, and they think they were made just for them. This is precisely what kids tell us themselves, and parents confirm all the time.”

Sapire then talked more about the process that goes into refreshing a classic for younger audiences. “It always goes back to strong storytelling and which characters we feel will have the most resonance with this generation of kids and families. We go directly to our audience and ask them what they want to see and what they love about these characters. We want to make sure they see themselves and the world around them reflected in the stories and characters, and we make sure to reflect real situations and emotions that preschoolers experience on a daily basis.”

Shows featuring well-known characters are also resonating with parents and caregivers, Sapire added. “They want to share in the warmth and joy of those wondrous stories that shaped their own childhoods. Parents tell us all the time how they appreciate when we adapt stories for a young audience, creating an entry point and a bridge to so many of the iconic movies and characters they love. This creates connections in families, generation after generation.”

The conversation with Sapire then moved to how the brand is meeting audiences where they are across streaming on Disney+, the networks Disney Jr. and Disney Channel and a dedicated Disney Jr. YouTube channel. “It’s a top-level destination on YouTube with nearly 20 million subscribers and 18 billion lifetime views,” Sapire said. “Beyond the screen, we have pretty unrivaled products, parks and cruises that extend our storytelling in meaningful and memorable ways.”

The session wrapped with Sapire talking about diversity and promoting socio-emotional values in content. “We have a very thoughtful storytelling approach that takes into consideration the integral parts of a preschooler’s development—social, emotional, their creative world, cognitive, their physical world—while also making sure our content is bringing joy, laughter and entertainment.”