Back in 1983, a much-smaller Walt Disney Company launched a little cable channel known as “The Disney Channel”. Featuring such hits as “Mousercise” and “Welcome to Pooh Corner”, the fledgling outlet went on to develop decades of Disney content. Although a much smaller venue than channels like ABC or ESPN, Disney Channel nonetheless was an important arrow in Disney’s media quiver. But now, with Disney+ becoming the primary focus of The Walt Disney Company, it appears Disney Channel’s days are numbered.
While The Walt Disney Channel had shut down just 30 Disney Channel services around the globe in 2020 due to their focus on Disney+, the company now plans to close more than 100 more Disney Channel offerings in 2021. As each contract ends around the globe with various international cable companies, Disney seems intent on ceasing the service. Additionally, almost every possible way to close out expenditures on the service has been initiated within the company.
Well, we closed 30 channels in FY2020 or in 2020. We plan to close 100 in 2021. So yes, we will continue and continue at a robust rate. And then the content to your question, we’ll continue to migrate to Disney+, the great majority of that content will migrate to Disney+. And again, the decisions that we make in individual channels and individual markets, and the timing of such are sort of framed up by existing deals that we’ve gotten some of the constraints we’ve got there… — Bob Chapek, The Walt Disney Company CEO
Many European cable television subscribers may have already noticed Disney Channel having disappeared from their channel selections. But how long until American versions of Disney Channel cease broadcasting? Well, if Bob Chapek’s statement about closing Disney Channels as soon as contractual obligations end is true… then it would seem that Americans will stop having access to Disney Channel in early 2022.
According to a nearly-decade old story from The Hollywood Reporter, Disney’s contractual obligations with Comcast will end in 2022.
“Under the new deal, Comcast will launch Disney Junior, a new 24-hour basic channel for preschool-age children and parents. The cable giant will also provide its Xfinity TV customers with a suite of live Disney networks on an authenticated basis.
Financial terms and the length of the arrangement weren’t disclosed, but sources said it will run for 10 years – like a previous Comcast arrangement with CBS Corp.”
— The Hollywood Reporter, January 4th, 2012
According to an article from Inside the Magic, the closure of cable channels is not limited to Disney+, but instead includes channels such as NatGeo, Disney Junior, Fox, FX, and more.
The shrinking of Disney’s portfolio by withdrawing content from nearly every venue except Disney+ is a risky strategy. We saw in the previous quarter earnings report that placing all your eggs in the subscriber basket can prove turbulent. But this is the path Disney has chosen to move forward. And Chapek, being a media delivery expert, has determined Disney’s way forward is to go all-in on streaming services. Really the only exception to that is box office results for movies that may be significant once more this summer (mostly due to Reddit posters helping save AMC through Wall Street Bets).
What are your thoughts on the deletion of many Disney-owned channels, including Disney Channel? Let us know in the comments below. And, even more fun, share your favorite nostalgia-inducing memories of shows from the channel. After all, commenting builds dialogue and rapport with us here at Pirates and Princesses!
Pirates & Princesses (PNP) is an independent, opinionated fan-powered news blog that covers Disney and Universal Theme Parks, Themed Entertainment and related Pop Culture from a consumer's point of view. Opinions expressed by our contributors do not necessarily reflect the views of PNP, its editors, affiliates, sponsors or advertisers. PNP is an unofficial news source and has no connection to The Walt Disney Company, NBCUniversal or any other company that we may cover.