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Disney to shut down six TV channels in Southeast Asia

Channels will stop broadcasting in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan by the end of the year.

Channels will stop broadcasting in Hong Kong, South Korea and Taiwan by the end of the year.

The home screen of the Walt Disney Company's flagship streaming televisions ervice Disney Plus.
Disney is hoping television viewers in Southeast Asia will move to its streaming services, like Disney Plus (pictures), instead of its traditional linear channels. (Image courtesy the Walt Disney Company, Graphic by The Desk)

The Walt Disney Company will exit the linear television business in several southeastern Asian countries by the end of the year, a move that will also see the company shut down television networks in South Korea, the media giant affirmed on Wednesday.

All six affected channels were acquired by Disney several years ago as part of its broader purchase of certain assets owned by Fox Corporation, then known as 21st Century Fox. The channels are National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, Star Movies, Star World, Star Chinese Channel and Star Chinese Movies.

Disney will shut off its pay television networks in Hong Kong, Taiwan and other parts of Southeast Asia by September, while channels will continue broadcasting in South Korea through the end of the year. Content from those channels will mostly be available on Disney Plus and Hotstar, except in China, where the streaming services have not launched.

Some Disney-owned channels will continue to operate in Australia, New Zealand, Japan and parts of China for the foreseeable future, with no plans by the company to cease broadcasting there.

The move will end Disney’s dominance in the Southeast Asian market, where it operated the second-highest quantity of linear channels by a foreign media organization, according to a new report released earlier this month (Warner Bros Discovery, WBD, operates the most channels).

Disney has been working to pull out of the linear television market in Southeast Asia for some time as the company builds its future on the back of its streaming services. Three years ago, Disney stopped broadcasting three Fox Sports-branded networks; in 2021, it shut down all of its Fox-branded entertainment, sports and movie channels across the region.

The pullout has helped Disney become one of the more-dominant streaming platforms in Southeast Asia, with Disney accruing more paid subscribers in Indonesia, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines than Netflix or Amazon’s Prime Video.

All three services have posted gains in Southeast Asia for their respective services, with some of the biggest growth potential for the future. But streamers increasingly want home-grown content, with at least one report indicating only 20 percent of television shows and movies watched on those platforms are produced by American studios.

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About the Author:

Matthew Keys

Matthew Keys is the publisher of The Desk and reports on the business and policy matters involving the broadcast television, streaming video and radio industries. He previously worked for Thomson Reuters, Disney-ABC, Tribune Broadcasting and McNaughton Newspapers. Matthew is based in Northern California, has won numerous awards in the field of journalism, and is a member of IRE (Investigative Reporters and Editors).