Disney to Close Remaining Linear TV Channels in Southeast Asia, Korea

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Disney is to close its six remaining linear TV channels in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Korea as the conglomerate puts a greater emphasis on direct-to-consumer streaming.

The channels concerned are National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, Star Chinese Movies, Star Chinese Channel, Star Movies and Star World. Linear services will end from September in Southeast Asia, Hong Kong and Korea, and by December in Taiwan.

The group expects to retain a streamlined television portfolio with channels in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand for the time being.

Consumers can continue to access content from these channels on the conglomerate’s Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar streaming platforms, which are now fully rolled out within the Asia-Pacific region, except China. The twin platforms carry movies and shows from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star, Disney’s general entertainment brand.

While the moves may help reduce costs and push consumption onto its D2C businesses, sources close to the group say that Disney still expects to grow its media and entertainment businesses – D2C, theatrical, consumer products and theme parks – in the region.

The moves were foreshadowed by similar moves in 2020 and 2021. Disney closed its sports channels in Taiwan in 2020. In September 2021, it closed Fox, Fox Crime, Fox Life, FX, and Channel V; movie channels Fox Action Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Movies and Star Movies China; sports channels Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2; kids channel Disney Channel and Disney Junior; factual services Nat Geo People and SCM Legend. Many of those channels had been brought into the Disney group by the 2018 acquisition of 21st Century Fox.

In the five largest markets of Southeast Asia proper (Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines) SVOD subscriptions reached 49 million at the end of the first quarter, according to data from research house Media Partners Asia.

It estimated that, in terms of subscription numbers, the leading platforms in the first quarter were Disney+ and Disney+ Hotstar with 9.4 million, Viu with 8.5 million, Netflix with 8.0 million and Prime Video at 1.3 million. (A categorization by revenue might produce a different ranking.)

Other recent reports have pointed to U.S.-produced content accounting for only 20% of video viewing time in the region, eclipsed by Korea content at 30%. However, since the launch of the streaming platform, Disney has become a significant investor in locally-made Asian content.



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