The Walt Disney Company, parent company of India’s leading sports broadcaster Star Sports, continues its push towards digital – the direct to consumer streaming services.
Company’s Chief Executive Officer Bob Chapek, speaking at a technology and media conference, has announced the Walt Disney Company will shut down 100 channels this year. This will be in addition to the 30 already closed in 2020. Most of the content from the closed channels will be shifted to Disney+, the company’s OTT service.
“The great majority of that content will migrate to Disney+,” Chapek said earlier this week. “That continues to be a core strategy for us as we pivot toward direct-to-consumer.”
The company has already announced closure of its 18 channels in the Asian market, including Star Sports and Fox Sports in South East Asia.
The Closure of the TV / cable channels will not amount to cutting down the business. It is rather aimed at a targeted growth. “We will continue at a robust rate. We’ll continue to migrate to Disney+, the great majority of that content will migrate to Disney+,” Bloomberg has reported Chapek as saying.
“The decisions that we make in individual channels and individual markets, and the timing of such, are sort of framed up by existing deals…some of the constraints we’ve got there. But as you can see, that continues to be a core strategy for us as we pivot toward direct-to-consumer.”
Chapek also gave some insights into the Indian market approach for the Walt Disney Company. It will be a vastly different approach for Disney in the world’s most populated country, he revealed.
“We have an unparalleled collection of entertainment and sports in our Hotstar offering, something we’re really proud of. But India is really a unique market because we have particularly what I’ll call mass-market pricing and distribution,” he said at the conference.
“It’s a unique market in terms of that distribution because it’s really a mobile-first market, which is kind of unusual. They have low bandwidth, so [we] have to tailor our offerings to match that low bandwidth and local languages are particularly important there. So we have to sort of customize for each of those unique elements.”
Disney introduced Disney+ Hotstar in India last year. That service, which features cricket matches and other local content, now accounts for 30% of Disney+’s total global subscriber count of 103.6 million. In April, meanwhile, Disney announced plans to close a number of its sports networks in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.
A lot about Disney’s India policy will also become clear when the media rights of some of its key cricket properties – the BCCI, IPL and ICC – will come up for renewal over the next one year.