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Disney to pull 18 channels in SE Asia

The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) will pull 18 of its TV channels in South-East Asia and Hong Kong as part of its ongoing shift towards a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model via streaming.

Bob Chapek

Among the 18 channels closing down on October 1 will be entertainment networks including Fox, FX, Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Nat Geo People, as well as a host of sports networks.

Four channels will remain available – Star Chinese Channel, Star Chinese Movies, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild – while others set to go dark include Fox Crime, Fox Life, Fox Sports, Star Sports and Fox Movies.

The move follows similar action in the UK, where linear networks Disney Channel, Disney Junior and Disney XD went dark on October 1 last year, while the same thing happened in Australia and New Zealand in 2019 ahead of the launch of Disney+.

The closure of the channels, confirmed to C21 by a spokeswoman for TWDC, comes as the Mouse House continues its pivot towards a D2C-first model as its streaming services grow their reach around the world.

“These efforts will help us align our resources more efficiently and effectively to current and future business needs,” the company told employees earlier this week.

The media giant has made no secret of its intention to prioritise Disney+ over its traditional linear TV operations in many markets as viewing habits continue to shift towards streaming.

Last month, TWDC CEO Bob Chapek said the Mouse House’s D2C business is the “top priority” after confirming Disney+ had surpassed 100 million global paid subscribers just under a year-and-a-half after launching.

Disney+ is currently only available in Singapore and Indonesia in South-East Asia, although launches in Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines are expected at some point in 2021.

In some international markets, general entertainment brand Star has been added to Disney+’s offer, bringing subscribers more adult-orientated TV programming and movies drawn mostly from the 20th Century Fox catalogue, as well as originals.


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