Three months after the launch of Disney+ in the U.K., Disney has announced that it will shut down its kids’ channels in the country.
Here are the details:
- On October 1, Disney Channel, Disney XD, and Disney Junior will cease to exist in the U.K. All titles will move exclusively to the Disney+ streaming service. Disney made the announcement after failing to reach distribution deals with Comcast’s Sky and Virgin Media, leading pay-tv platforms in the country, according to U.K. trade publication Broadcast.
- In a statement to The Hollywood Reporter, a Disney spokesperson said that the company “remains committed to our kids channels business and continues to execute distribution agreements for Disney channels in many markets where Disney+ is also available, with the goal of giving our fans multiple entry points to our storytelling.”
- Even so, the consolidation in the U.K. marks a symbolic turning point for the company, and the industry at large. Disney+ has started strong, drawing over 54 million global subscribers since its launch in November. A report by Oliver and Ohlbaum Associates estimated that the streamer picked up 1.6 million U.K. subscribers in the first month after it launched there in March.
- As the streaming boom gathers pace, Disney may have calculated that there is little financial incentive to renew distribution deals for linear channels. Nor has Sky been sleeping through the revolution: it recently struck a deal with Disney to integrate Disney+ into its premium tv service Sky Q, which also offers Netflix.
- A month ago, Broadcast reported that David Levine, Disney’s vice president of kids programming for the U.K., Europe, and Africa, would leave after 16 years at the company.
(Image at top: “101 Dalmatian Street,” which aired on Disney Channel in the U.K.)