CEO Bob Chapek (pictured) announced that Disney will shutter 100 more international TV channels in 2021 during a virtual Q&A at the J.P. Morgan Global Technology, Media and Communications conference earlier this week.
He didn’t specify which nets would go dark, but said “we will continue [to close channels] at a robust rate, and then the great majority of that content will migrate to Disney+.” According to Chapek, Disney closed 30 channels in 2020.
In April, Disney announced that 18 linear channels in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong—including its kids offerings—would cease broadcasting as of October 1, 2021. Three linear kids networks in the UK went off-air in 2020, following similar closures in Australia and New Zealand in 2019.
Linear channels provided Disney with considerable cash flow during the pandemic, but Chapek said the closures will move at a swift pace as the company continues its transition into a direct-to-consumer business.
“We don’t want to be on the back end of that wave [away from linear]. We want to be on the front end,” he said.
Throughout the virtual Q&A, Chapek talked about the importance of DTC and its stellar growth in the past year. Disney reported that DTC revenue was up 59% in Q2, when overall revenue was down by 13%.
Moving forward, Disney is focusing on “great content based on powerhouse franchises” for its streaming services, said Chapek. Disney+ will also see a big influx of new content in the next two to three years, since the pandemic slowed production significantly in 2020/2021. By fiscal 2022/2023, the platform should be back to its previously anticipated content release flow, according to Chapek.