Disney Kids Channels to Shutter in U.K., Content Moving to Disney+

Disney
Disney+

"The Walt Disney 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."

The Walt Disney Co. will close down its three linear channels in the U.K. this fall and move content to streaming service Disney+.

From Oct. 1, Disney+ will become the exclusive U.K. home for content from Disney Channel, DisneyXD and Disney Junior, the company said Thursday.

"The direct-to-consumer service, which garnered more than 54.5 million subscribers worldwide in its first seven months, will now premiere all the latest films, series and specials from the three Disney Channels, along with offering a rich and expansive back catalogue of Disney Channel titles in the U.K., including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Descendants 3 and Phineas and Ferb," Disney said.

The Hollywood conglomerate added: "The Walt Disney 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. "

A representative for Comcast-owned pay TV giant Sky U.K., which earlier this year struck a distribution deal for Disney+, said: "We have over 5,000 episodes of on demand content alongside our brilliant linear channels, from our partners Viacom and Turner, and we’re investing more in our own Sky kids originals, too, like Moominvalley and Morph. Kids can watch favorites like Peppa Pig and Paw Patrol, SpongeBob Squarepants and The Amazing World of Gumball, all the wonderful LEGO content and much, much more. And it is all available in one place – together with the best apps, like Disney+ and Netflix – on [premium pay TV service] Sky Q."

One analyst suggested that it had been getting more difficult for Disney and its distribution partners in Britain to strike carriage deals for the company's three kids networks that make financial sense for both sides, making the consolidation of the channels' content a logical next step.

PP Foresight analyst Paolo Pescatore called the U.K. news "a landmark moment," explaining: "The streaming revolution is gathering pace and cannot be ignored. Companies can no longer continue to support a slew of channels and cannibalize revenue streams. The future is all about streaming and this latest move sets a benchmark for others to follow suit."

Alex Ritman contributed to this report.