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Disney closes popular parenting sites

November 21, 2009

Disney has abruptly shut down two popular parenting websites less than 18 months after acquiring them.

The Disney Family Group, which consisted of the Raisingkids and UKfamily sites, has closed, leaving parents to seek online support from other sites, including Netmums and Mumsnet, the group’s rivals.

Raisingkids.co.uk, which was founded in 2001, was sold to the Disney Interactive Media Group in August 2008. At the time, Disney said that the site would be the “perfect complement” to the company’s new UKfamily.co.uk site, while Pat Spungin, the site’s founder, said: “It’s clear to me that Disney intends to keep the spirit and ethos of the site intact — the future of Raisingkids.co.uk is safe in their hands.”

Yet both sites were closed this month, even though the most recent traffic data from Nielsen, the market researcher, suggested that visitor numbers were healthy. Figures for September indicated that the Disney Family Group had a unique audience of 503,000 visitors per month — higher than the 488,000 for Mumsnet, but behind the 636,000 for Netmums.

All content has been removed from the two sites and visitors are greeted by messages informing them of the closures, and encouraging them to visit Family.com, the American parenting site, also owned by Disney.

Catherine Hanly, former Raisingkids editor, said: “It does seem to have been kept quite quiet, although, of course, the members were told a week before it happened, to give them time to find ways to keep in touch. Some of them had known each other through the Raisingkids’ forums for eight years.” The forums are still available at rkforums.co.uk.

A spokesman for Disney said: “While both sites [Raisingkids and UKfamily] proved popular with their loyal users, a review of our parent-oriented sites in the UK determined that the further investment needed to maintain and grow the sites to the level required for long-term success was not strategically prudent. We encourage the sites’ users to visit the sister site, Family.com, which features a vast amount of similar editorial content.”