Dis Channel launches b'band service in Taiwan

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SINGAPORE -- Disney Channel launched its first broadband service in the Asia Pacific region Friday, rolling out Disney Channel@Play on its Web site in Taiwan.

This is the third Disney Channel broadband service in the world and the second time Disney has chosen Taiwan as a launching pad for new services in Asia. The first Disney Channel outside of the U.S. launched in Taiwan in 1995.

The new broadband service offers full-length, Mandarin-dubbed, Chinese-subtitled episodes of animated and live-action series streamed free of charge via Disney's online broadband player.

The site will be refreshed weekly, and also will carry original content created specially for the broadband platform, Disney said in a statement out of Taipei.

The first original production is a music video performed by Taiwanese boy band Fahrenheit. "Little VIP" airs in February to usher in the "Year of the Mouse."

The lineup includes selected episodes from shows on Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney, including "Hannah Montana," "The Suite Life of Zack and Cody," "That's So Raven," "Kim Possible," "Mickey Mouse Clubhouse" and "Little Einsteins."

The company did not say how many hours of content will be available at any one time.

Taiwan was Disney's choice because household Internet penetration is 73%, with almost 65% of users having broadband connections, according to Billy Huang, vp and managing director of Walt Disney Television International (Taiwan R.O.C.).

Huang also said that Disney Channel is in 97% of cable households in Taiwan, where the channel launched in 1995. "These factors make it the ideal market in which to launch Disney Channel@Play," he said.

The site has 2.3 million unique visitors per month.

"We're optimistic that the service will be well-received, although it is too early to have an estimate on the level of user reception," Huang said.

"This development extends the kids' Disney Channel experience and gives us the chance to offer them Disney Channel content whenever and however they wish to access it," vice president and managing director of Walt Disney Television International (Greater China region), Dai Hua, said.

Taiwan's Internet penetration is among the highest in the world, with about 13 million Internet users at the end of 2007, according to figures from the government's Executive Yuan Research, Development, and Evaluation Commission.

About 50% of these are online shoppers. Almost 66% of total users are above the age of 12, and more than 82% of households have computers.
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