Disney agrees first channel joint venture

Rose Major | 12-05-2010

In a world first, The Walt Disney Company is forming a joint venture to launch Disney Channels in South Korea. SK Telecom is the lucky partner, and majority partner at that, with 51% of the proposed venture.

While it remains not yet set in stone, the first-ever joint venture to launch Disney Channels is slated to launch Korean-language versions of Disney Channel and Playhouse Disney. The two channels will be available in high definition as well as standard def, and be made available on cable, DTH and IPTV platforms subject to carriage deals. There will also be “related on-demand digital media services”.

A statement from the two companies said: “Anchored by Disney’s beloved characters and kid and family-friendly content, the channels will air a significant portion of locally produced, Korean-language programming. The launch of the channels is slated for spring 2011, pending regulatory approval from the Korea Communications Commission.”

SK Telecom will be the majority (51%) shareholder, bringing expertise in mobile, IPTV and digital media platforms as well as perational experience and business expertise as one of the largest conglomerates in South Korea. In return for its 49% stake in the venture, The Walt Disney Company will provide its portfolio of kids and family-targeted content, marketing expertise, and local content production & acquisition support.

SK Telecom President and CEO Man-won Jung said: “The joint venture with Disney carries significant meaning, especially considering the business environment nowadays where customers consume content not only through television, but through an array of devices, including mobile handsets, laptop computers and tablet PCs. In the future, by forging a close strategic alliance with Disney, we hope to create more opportunities between the two parties.”

Andy Bird, Chairman, Walt Disney International, said: “South Korea is one of the most exciting digital media markets in the world. Disney’s creativity and innovative content, combined with SK Telecom’s leading global expertise in digital media and telecommunications, present a unique offering that meets the growing consumer appetite for quality family entertainment where and when they want it.”

“The Korea Communications Commission’s visionary digital strategy has driven South Korea’s impressive development as one of the most digitally advanced nations in the world,” added Ben Pyne, President, Global Distribution, Disney Media Networks. “SK Telecom has delivered on that vision with an intuitive, diverse yet straightforward and convenient system of connectivity that engages viewers with choice and compelling content.”