Disney is further reducing its global cable operations, potentially foreshadowing significant shifts for its U.S. networks.

Disney to close down cable channels

This year, the entertainment giant plans to discontinue its remaining traditional TV channels across Southeast Asia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Korea. Recently, Disney ceased cable operations in Vietnam, resulting in the removal of The National Geographic Channel, Nat Geo Wild, and Baby TV. Additionally, channels such as Star Chinese Movies, Star Chinese Channel, Star Movies, and Star World face potential closure. Disney is also contemplating the sale of its assets in India.

This decision follows Disney’s recent deal with Charter Communications’ Spectrum, allowing the removal of eight channels, including Baby TV, Disney Junior, Disney XD, Freeform, FXM, FXX, Nat Geo Wild, and Nat Geo Mundo.

This move sets a precedent for other cable and pay-TV companies negotiating new distribution deals with Disney. To potentially increase the cost for major networks like ESPN, Disney might have to relinquish some of its smaller channels. Disney CEO Bob Iger acknowledged this reality during the company’s recent earnings conference call, stating that consolidating the channel lineup presents favorable prospects.

Considering everything collectively, the closure of these Asian channels might just signify the beginning of a larger trend rather than an isolated action.

Disney was not immediately accessible for comment.

With a pressing need to enhance profitability and make its streaming services profitable, Disney faces a deadline. Hulu and Disney+ collectively incurred operating losses of $420 million in the fiscal fourth quarter. One strategy to reduce costs involves shifting focus from underutilized TV networks towards bolstering streaming platforms.

Simultaneously, Disney aims to launch an integrated app merging Hulu’s on-demand content into Disney+. According to sources familiar with the matter cited by The Wall Street Journal, a bundled Hulu/Disney+ subscription could potentially attract up to 150,000 new subscribers within the next year, yielding millions in revenue.

Disney, under the pressure of an activist investor, appears to be considering significant transformations. Recently, Iger mentioned ongoing discussions about a potential partnership between Disney’s ESPN and a major tech company. Earlier this summer, he hinted that television holdings like ABC might not be central to Disney’s future, prompting Byron Allen, CEO of Allen Media Group, to bid $10 billion for these assets. Despite this, Disney later clarified that it wasn’t prepared to sell.

Even if Disney doesn’t pursue such substantial changes, the likelihood of consolidating and eliminating some cable networks, particularly following the Spectrum deal, remains highly plausible.

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Gary is a geeky-binge watcher who loves to pen down all that he watches. The night-owl has just got two hobbies, binge-watching all the latest shows and writing everything about them.