Disney to close 18 channels in Asia to shift focus to streaming

Teng Yong Ping
·Lifestyle Editor
·3 min read
(L-R): Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios' THE FALCON AND THE WINTER SOLDIER exclusively on Disney+. Photo by Chuck Zlotnick. ©Marvel Studios 2020. All Rights Reserved.
Falcon/Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie, on the left) and Winter Soldier/Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in Marvel Studios' The Falcon And The Winter Soldier exclusively on Disney+. (Photo by Chuck Zlotnick/Marvel Studios)

SINGAPORE — Disney will soon close 18 TV channels in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong as it focuses on consolidating its direct-to-consumer services, including its Disney Plus streaming platform. The company will pull the plug on the content on 1 October, 2021.

Most of the channels being closed came from Disney's acquisition of 21st Century Fox just two years ago. Disney told Yahoo Lifestyle SEA that the 18 channels to be discontinued are: entertainment channels Fox, Fox Crime, Fox Life and FX; movie channels Fox Action Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Movies and Star Movies China; music channel Channel V; sports channels Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Star Sports 1, and Star Sports 2; kids channels Disney Channel and Disney Junior; and factual services Nat Geo People and SCM Legend.

Only four linear channels will remain in Disney's regional TV portfolio from October: Star Chinese Channel, Star Chinese Movies, National Geographic Channel and Nat Geo Wild.

Disney apparently informed employees in Singapore about the closure yesterday, according to Geek Culture.

Disney said in response to queries from Yahoo Lifestyle SEA, "As part of The Walt Disney Company's global effort to pivot towards a direct-to-consumer-first model and further grow our streaming services, the Company is consolidating its Media Networks business primarily in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Effective 1 October 2021, Disney will operate a streamlined television portfolio that covers Chinese language channels (Star Chinese Channel; Star Chinese Movies) and Factual Entertainment (National Geographic Channel; Nat Geo WILD). These efforts will help us align our resources more efficiently and effectively to current and future business needs."

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Disney Plus is so far available in this region only in Singapore and Indonesia, but it's been a hit with consumers. Media research firm Parrot Analytics said that in the second week of April, Disney Plus programming accounted for five of the six most watched shows in Singapore. These included: The Falcon And The Winter Soldier, WandaVision, The Mandalorian, Modern Family and Grey's Anatomy.

Disney's streaming service is currently available in 59 markets globally and recently reached more than 100 million paid subscribers ahead of target. It will continue to roll out in more markets in the region including Hong Kong this year. A targeted Disney Plus launch for Malaysia had experienced a delay.

"Disney will continue to have a strong media and entertainment business in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong that includes our direct-to-consumer business, studio entertainment, consumer products, games and publishing business, serving consumers and partners alike in the region," said a company spokesperson.

Pay-TV providers which have included Disney and Fox channels in their subscription packages will have to review their consumer offerings in the wake of Disney's cull of its linear content. In Singapore, Singtel said it was clarifying the issue with Disney, while Starhub said the impact on its customers would be "minimal".

A Singtel spokesperson said that the company is currently working with Disney to understand its channel closures in better detail and assess the potential impact.

Starhub said that its pay-TV line-up features only five Disney-owned channels among those to be shuttered: Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Star Chinese Movies Legend and Nat Geo People. The telco has integrated over-the-top streaming services like Netflix and Disney Plus together with its linear TV offerings. "There is minimal impact on our customers, who are able to continue watching films, series and documentaries through Disney+," said Starhub. 

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