SAN DIEGO — Disney has struck a deal with Viz Media to bring the anime series “Naruto Shippuden” to the Disney XD network beginning next month.
“Shippuden” is the sequel to the popular Japanese import and picks up with the ninja lead characters now in their teens. The original “Naruto” series has been airing on Cartoon Network since 2005.
“We’re thrilled to be working with Disney,” Bill Germain, media director of programming sales at the San Francisco-based animation and licensing company. “We know Disney XD has been tracking really well since it launched in February and we think our top brand matches well with that audience.”
While it may be new to the Disney audience, Naruto has already proven to be a strong license in gaming and online. Subtitled episodes of “Shippuden” were among the top streams on both Hulu and Joost earlier this year.
“Disney XD is a growing destination for our key demographic, boys 6-14, and we’re looking forward to bringing the adventures of ‘Naruto Shippuden’ to our lineup,” said Tracy McAndrew, director, acquisitions and co-productions, Disney-ABC Cable Networks Group.
Laura Yoshioka, director of consumer software for Tomy, which owns the “Naruto” game rights for all Nintendo platforms, said, “’Naruto’ has always had a large installed base so the games did well even without a TV series for support.” But with Tomy releasing two new titles in the series, including the Nintendo DS game “Naruto Shippuden: Ninja Destiny 2” next week, Yoshioka suggested the new TV deal could end up broadening the audience for the video games as well. “Having Disney as the broadcast partner we feel really pushes the brand to the next level,” she added.