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Disney to switch off 100 int’l channels

Disney+ original The Mandalorian

The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) is planning to pull 100 TV channels around the world this year as its ongoing shift towards a direct-to-consumer (D2C) business model via streaming picks up pace.

TWDC CEO Bob Chapek revealed the plans to switch off swathes of its international networks at JPMorgan’s annual Global, Technology, Media & Telecommunications Conference this week.

The news comes after the Mouse House recently closed 30 of its channels in markets including the UK, Australia and New Zealand, with more confirmed to be closing in South-East Asia and Hong Kong last month.

Chapek added where and when the channels close will be dictated by the terms of its existing carriage deals in the different markets where TWDC operates.

Bob Chapek

The closures come as the Mouse House continues its pivot towards a D2C-first model as its streaming services, led by Disney+, grow their reach around the world.

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.

Earlier this year 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 steadily expanding around the world, with launches in Central and Eastern Europe, as well as Malaysia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines, expected at some point in 2021.

Currently available in most markets in North America, Europe and Latin America, Disney+ is home to Star Wars, Marvel and Pixar originals such as The Mandalorian, WandaVision and Monster at Work, as well as library programming from networks such as Disney Channel.

Earlier this year Disney+ unveiled a slate of 10 new European commissions as part of its ambition to commission 50 productions in Europe by 2024.

In many international markets, general entertainment brand Star has been added to Disney+’s offering, 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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