Disney shutting down 13 pay-TV channels in Singapore from Oct 1

This includes five channels not carried in Singapore.
This includes five channels not carried in Singapore.PHOTO: REUTERS

SINGAPORE - Disney will be shutting down 13 pay-television channels currently available in Singapore from Oct 1, as part of the company's efforts "to pivot towards a direct-to-consumer-first model and further grow (its) streaming services".

The 13 channels are Fox, Fox Crime, Fox Life, Fox Action Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Movies, FX, Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Channel V, Nat Geo People and SCM Legend.

The Walt Disney Company told The Straits Times: "Effective Oct 1, 2021, Disney will operate a streamlined television portfolio that covers Chinese language channels (Star Chinese Channel; Star Chinese Movies) and Factual Entertainment (National Geographic Channel; Nat Geo Wild)."

The news comes two months after Disney's streaming platform Disney+ was launched in Singapore on Feb 23.

Singtel, which carries all 13 affected channels on its pay-television service, said it is currently working with Disney to understand this in better detail and assess the potential impact.

StarHub, which carries five affected channels - Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, SCM Legend and Nat Geo People - said: "There is minimal impact on our customers, who are able to continue watching films, series and documentaries through Disney+."

It added it will provide customers with more information closer to Oct 1.

Viewers are able to access Disney+ through StarHub or subscribe to the streaming service directly.

Serie A football and Formula One fan Basil Yeo says he is disappointed with the termination of the channels.

"Football, the rights keep bouncing around from Channel 5 to ESPN and so on, but F1 has always been on Fox for me.

"And terminating it on Oct 1, that's the weekend of the Singapore Grand Prix. It'll be three quarters into the season by then, so I'm not sure how that might work out," says the 32-year-old video producer. He subscribes to the Fox Sports channels on Singtel for around $40 a month.

Mr Yeo hopes to avoid subscribing to another service like Disney+, though he would consider doing so if it offered live sports.

"I already have Netflix, Amazon Prime Video and got HBO Go recently, too. So if I get Disney+, it'll be like the old days of paying for a bunch of cable channels all over again."

In total, Disney is shutting down 18 channels in South-east Asia and Hong Kong from Oct 1. This includes five channels not carried in Singapore - Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Star Movies China, Star Sports 1 and Star Sports 2.

It did not respond to a query on how many people have been let go as a result.