United States – The Walt Disney Company has announced that will be acquiring a US$1.5b equity stake in Epic Games, alongside a collaboration to create a new games and entertainment universe that will further expand the reach of beloved Disney stories and experiences. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals.

In addition to being a world-class games experience and interoperating with Fortnite, the new persistent universe will offer a multitude of opportunities for consumers to play, watch, shop and engage with content, characters and stories from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, Avatar and more. 

Moroever, players, gamers and fans will be able to create their own stories and experiences, express their fandom in a distinctly Disney way, and share content with each other in ways that they love. This will all be powered by Unreal Engine.

Robert Iger, chief executive officer at The Walt Disney Company, said, “Our exciting new relationship with Epic Games will bring together Disney’s beloved brands and franchises with the hugely popular Fortnite in a transformational new games and entertainment universe. This marks Disney’s biggest entry ever into the world of games and offers significant opportunities for growth and expansion. We can’t wait for fans to experience the Disney stories and worlds they love in groundbreaking new ways.”

Meanwhile, Tim Sweeney, CEO and founder at Epic Games, commented, “Disney was one of the first companies to believe in the potential of bringing their worlds together with ours in Fortnite, and they use Unreal Engine across their portfolio. Now we’re collaborating on something entirely new to build a persistent, open and interoperable ecosystem that will bring together the Disney and Fortnite communities.”

Lastly, Josh D’Amaro, chairman at Disney Experiences, said, “This will enable us to bring together our incredible collection of stories and experiences from across the company for a broad audience in ways we have only dreamed of before. Epic Games’ industry-leading technology and Fortnite’s open ecosystem will help us reach consumers where they are so they can engage with Disney in the ways that are most relevant to them.”

Disney and Epic Games has long been engaged with hundreds of millions of players through Fortnite content integrations, season collaborations, in-game activations, and live events, including the Marvel Nexus War with Galactus, which drew more than 15.3 million concurrent players.

Manila, Philippines – The Walt Disney Company has officially closed its remaining linear TV channels in Southeast Asia which included National Geographic, National Geographic Wild, Star World, Star Movies, Star Chinese Channel, Star Chinese Films, and BabyTV.

This officially took effect on October 1, as the company aims to move into direct-to-consumer streaming endeavours.

In the Philippines, cable television provider SKYcable is offering its users to alternatively watch from the channels ZooMoo, Cartoonito, History Channel, Discovery Channel, Animal Planet, Love Nature, CCM, CGTN, CGTN Documentary, CCTV 4, and KIX.

The Walt Disney Company had already decided on the channel closures back in June this year, as it aims to retain a streamlined television portfolio with channels in Japan, China, Australia and New Zealand for the time being.

The multinational entertainment company has made similar moves back in 2020 and 2021. Some of its closed channels include Fox, Fox Crime, Fox Life, FX, and Channel V, as well as ox Action Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Movies and Star Movies China. Other channels that are being closed include Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2, Fox Sports 3, Star Sports 1, Star Sports 2, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Nat Geo People and SCM Legend.

Singapore – Popular Korean pop boy group BTS is coming to major streaming platform Disney+ after its entertainment agency HYBE has scored a major streaming deal with The Walt Disney Company Asia. Both entities aim to showcase creative excellence from South Korea’s music and entertainment industry to the world stage.

The agreement includes global distribution of five major content titles from HYBE, which include two exclusive series featuring 21st century pop icons BTS that will launch on Disney’s streaming services.

Three of those content titles will be ‘BTS: Permission To Dance On Stage – LA’ which is their concert film in Los Angeles’ Sofi Stadium in November 2021; ‘IN THE SOOP: Friendcation’ which is an original travel reality show featuring BTS members; and ‘BTS Monuments: Beyond The Star’, an original docu-series on the journey of the BTS members.

This strategic collaboration will allow Disney to introduce a series of new titles from HYBE over the next few years, as the entertainment platform continues to produce high-quality content based on its music and artists IPs.

Jessica Kam-Engle, APAC head of content at The Walt Disney Company, said, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with HYBE to showcase their original content created with powerful artist IP on our global streaming services including Disney+.”

She added, “This collaboration represents our creative ambition – to work with iconic content creators and top stars in Asia Pacific so their talent can be enjoyed by mainstream audiences in multiple ways. We believe these new titles will captivate consumers worldwide and look forward to introducing more music content on our service.”

Meanwhile, Park Ji-won, CEO of HYBE, commented, “This will be the start of a long-term collaboration, where we present worldwide audiences a wide range of HYBE content for fans who love our music and artists. The Walt Disney Company has a long history of franchise-building and promoting musical artists, with its unparalleled brands and platforms.”

Hong Kong – As part of strengthening their presence in Asia-Pacific, streaming service Disney+ from global media enterprise The Walt Disney Company has announced that they will roll out to the markets of South Korea, Hong Kong and Taiwan in November 2021.

Said announcement was made during the recent calls of the company regarding their Q3 earnings.

In addition to this announcement, Disney+ Japan will also be expanded to feature additional general entertainment content in October 2021.

To date, Disney+’s presence in the Asia-Pacific region includes the markets of Australia, New Zealand, Japan, Singapore, India, Malaysia, Indonesia and Thailand.

According to Luke Kang, president at The Walt Disney Company Asia Pacific, the response towards Disney+ across the region has exceeded the company’s expectations, as consumers seek diverse entertainment content and are drawn to their portfolio of brands and franchises.

“We are pleased with the subscriber growth and partnerships forged in markets, and look forward to engaging with more consumers across the region – through unparalleled storytelling, creative excellence and cutting-edge content delivery,” Kang said.

Said endeavor by Disney+ best reflects the duties of Kang when he was appointed to the current position last December 2020, including duties of managing Disney’s media networks, direct-to-consumer offerings including Disney+, media distribution and motion picture businesses.

Disney+’s current content portfolio includes a wide selection of films and episodes of content from Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, National Geographic and Star, as well as including local and regional content in the region. Globally, Disney+ is currently available in 61 countries and 21 languages across North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and Latin America.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – Malaysian satellite television provider Astro has announced that it has been appointed by global mass media company The Walt Disney Company to be an official distributor of its streaming service Disney+ Hotsuite in the country.

Astro customers will be able to stream more than 800 films and 18,000 episodes of Disney’s content on the Disney+ Hotstar app. Astro is working towards making Disney+ Hotstar available via the Ultra and Ulti connected boxes of Astro later this year, providing Astro customers with a one-stop entertainment convenience.

Henry Tan, group CEO at Astro, expressed his delight with their recent partnership with Disney to aggregate more global to their platform.

“Soon customers can enjoy the dazzling line-up from Disney+ Hotstar in addition to the much-loved Astro hits, local signatures, award-winning originals and unparalleled live sports, making us the undisputed entertainment destination for Malaysians,” Tan stated.

He also noted that their ‘Movies Pack’ customers will soon be able to stream content entertainment on Disney+ Hotstar for an additional RM5 per month while non-Movies Pack customers can also enjoy Disney+ Hotstar via other value bundles.

“This is a great start to an action-packed year where we will be aggregating subscription-based video on demand (SVOD) streaming services, giving our customers the widest variety of entertainment to choose from, value and convenience,” he added.

Meanwhile, David Shin, general manager at The Walt Disney Company Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia, commented, “We are excited to launch Disney+ Hotstar in Malaysia for the consumers and also collaborate closely with Astro to deliver powerful entertainment with heart. From iconic Disney classics, to brand-new Disney+ Original series, Malaysian hits from homegrown creators, filmmakers and talent and Asian series and films, there is something for everyone of all ages.”

The Disney+ Hotsuite will feature blockbuster Hollywood movies and award-winning content from Disney, Marvel, Star Wars, Pixar, National Geographic, FX, 20th Century Studios and many more, which also includes exclusive premieres and blockbusters from leading Malaysian studios.

California, USA – Media company The Walt Disney has announced a new leadership structure for the Asia Pacific, with two new leaders for The Walt Disney Company (TWDC) APAC and TWDC India.

While TWDC India has yet to see a new president until early 2021, TWDC has already appointed former executive vice president and managing director for TWDC Greater China, Japan and Korea Luke Kang (pictured) as TWDC’s president for APAC. He will oversee the company’s businesses in ANZ, Greater China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.

Entitled in his role also are managing Disney’s media networks, direct-to-consumer offerings including Disney+, media distribution and motion picture businesses, as well as other operations across APAC (excluding Disney parks). He will continue driving growth, innovation and brand affinity across these extremely diverse markets, and will closely collaborate with the consumer products team.

He will report to Rebecca Campbell, chairman of international operations & direct-to-consumer at The Walt Disney Company.

“With his deep understanding of our businesses in Asia Pacific, Luke is ideally suited to lead our efforts in the region. He has played a critical role in transforming our business in Asia optimizing operations, developing successful new revenue streams, and rapidly moving to roll out Disney+.  I’m confident that he and our extended team will deliver even more value as we continue to manage and grow Disney’s DTC and media businesses in the region,” said Campbell.

On the other hand, Kang commented, “I’m grateful for the confidence Rebecca has placed in me. I look forward to driving the Company’s business in Asia Pacific as we continue to evolve rapidly in order to engage our consumers across multiple touchpoints. It is an honor to build upon the legacy that Disney has established in some of the most exciting markets in the world and lead these amazing teams.”

Prior to his position, aside from his duties as an executive vice president, he had also worked as executive vice president & managing director for TWDC Greater China. He also worked for management roles for Viacom/MTV Networks in Asia Pacific and Monitor Group Asia Pacific Region before joining Disney in 2014.