Russian broadcaster Media1 is replacing Disney Channel Russia with a brand-new family channel called Solntse (“Sun” in English) that launches tomorrow.
Disney’s business in Russia has been suspended since the country invaded Ukraine this past spring. As part of its corporate stance, all Disney film releases were quickly put on hold, and the company has been working since to shut down the channel, which remained on air because of contracts. According to a release, Disney and Media1 have mutually agreed to dissolve their joint-venture, which has been in place since 2010.
Solntse will feature live-action and animated series and films. Its initial offering features local and international productions, including London-based 3D Sparrow’s non-dialogue series Booba (pictured) and Russia live-action film Breakfast at Dad’s (2016).
Media1 has content deals in place with Russian prodcos Yellow, Black and White (The Kitchen: Mortal Combat) and StoryTime (BerryBuds) that will be leveraged for Solntse.
Overseeing the channel is Ruben Oganesyan, a Russian media industry veteran who previoiusly served as CEO for Russian channels Yu (general films and reality shows aimed at women) and Che (general programming). He joined Media1 in 2020 as head of digital transformation and strategic marketing to oversee multiple channels, including Disney.
Disney Channel has consistently been one of the top-rated kids channels in Russia, according to research firm Statista. Disney aired its own content on the channel and picked up titles such as Studio 100’s CG-animated series Arthur and the Minimoys.
“We are pleased that we have reached a mutual agreement with Media1 to close the joint-venture,” said Kakhaber Abashidze, Disney’s country manager for Russia, CIS and Central & Eastern Europe. “We highly appreciate the long-term cooperation of our teams.”
Across all of its channels, Media1 says it reaches an audience of more than 100 million people per month.