Disney is shutting down three TV channels aimed at content for kids in the U.K. Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior are all set to cease operations in the fall. This comes not long after the launch of Disney+, the company's streaming service, which will now be home to the content that used to live on those channels.
The move will happen on October 1, with Disney+ becoming the exclusive home for content from those channels in the U.K. The decision comes after Disney reportedly failed to reach a new agreement with TV providers Sky and Virgin Media. The Walt Disney Company had this to say about it in a statement.
"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. 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. "
Disney Channel was originally launched in 1983 and, in the years since, has become a big part of the company's operations. Disney Junior was launched more recently, in 2011, with a focus on programming for younger children. Disney XD, meanwhile, was launched in 2009 and is generally geared toward pre-teens and young teenagers. A representative for Sky had this to say.
"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."
It has been suggested that deals that were financially beneficial to both sides were becoming increasingly complicated. Either way, it represents a huge shift to streaming for Disney. With the launch of Disney+ last year, the Mouse House aimed to compete more directly with the likes of Netflix, as well as newcomers such as HBO Max and Peacock, in the direct-to-consumer market. The industry, as a whole, views streaming as the future.
This also comes as another shake-up in the company's children's programming is on the horizon. David Levine, Disney's vice president of kids programming for the U.K., Europe and Africa, will be departing at the end of the month. This news was previously reported by The Hollywood Reporter.