Disney targets Malaysians next with launch of Disney+ Hotstar streaming service

The Walt Disney Company is launching Disney+ Hotstar in Malaysia on 1 June with Astro as the official distributor. Disney+ Hotstar launches with several iconic entertainment brands, including Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic. At the same time, the company has entered into a series of multi-year agreements with Malaysian studios such as Skop Productions, Revolution Media Films, Primeworks Studios, WAU Animation, Act 2 Pictures, Les’ Copaque Production, and Red Films, among others, underpinning its support for the local film community.

According to Disney, the multi-year agreements mean Disney+ Hotstar will be the exclusive home to some of the upcoming blockbusters in Malaysia, which will skip theatres and launch straight on the streaming service. They include J2: J Retribusi, Zombitopia, and Ada Hantu. Other Malaysian films include Upin & Ipin: Keris Siamang Tunggal, Munafik, Istanbul Aku Datang!, and Vedigundu Pasangge. Disney worked with Archetype Malaysia for the launch. 

David Shin, GM of The Walt Disney Company Taiwan, Hong Kong and Southeast Asia said launching the service in Malaysia, in collaboration with Astro, is an important milestone for the company as it continues expanding its footprint in Southeast Asia.

"Malaysians are not only connected, but also extremely tech-savvy and they represent some of Disney’s biggest fans in the region. We are tremendously excited to be able to deliver a wide array of content for everyone of all ages through our world-class platform, covering the best from Disney’s brands across a multitude of genres," Shin added.

Ahmad Izham Omar, executive director of content and creative, Disney+ Hotstar, Southeast Asia said through Disney+ Hotstar, it looks forward to continuing its deep-rooted support of Malaysian-made content and shining a well-deserved spotlight on inspiring Malaysian stories, filmmakers and talent. He joined the company last November from his role as CEO of Primeworks Studios. He is currently based in Singapore and is responsible for developing and producing original programming, as well as acquiring content and ensuring end-to-end title launch readiness.

Meanwhile, Astro's group CEO Henry Tan said it is delighted to aggregate "the best of the best to be the undisputed entertainment destination for Malaysians". Disney recently signified plans to double down on streaming by shutting the majority of its TV channels in Southeast Asia and Hong Kong in a bid to focus on and grow its streaming services. Channel NewsAsia reported that the consolidation of its media networks business in these two regions is part of the company's "global effort to pivot towards a direct-to-consumer-first model and further grow" its streaming services. The channels reported to shut include Fox, Fox Crime, Fox Life, FX, Fox Action Movies, Fox Family Movies, Fox Movies, Star Movies China, among others. Moving forward, Disney will manage a "streamlined TV portfolio" from 1 October onwards, covering Star Chinese Channel, Star Chinese Movies, National Geographic Channel, and Nat Geo Wild.

Disney+ first launched in Southeast Asia in Singapore on 24 February, with light projections tracked upon the façade of the Marina Bay Sands, ArtScience Museum, The Fullerton Hotel, Gardens by the Bay and the Merlion Park. According to Disney, the light projections were part of the show titled A Night of Disney+, organised by Disney and supported by the Singapore Tourism Board and Marina Bay Sands.

At the same time, there was also a marketing blitz to drum up hype for the new streaming service. Amit Malhotra, regional lead for Disney+ SEA, previously told A+M that the blitz is "unmatched in magnitude, scale and reach from what Disney has ever endeavoured in Singapore". The campaign comprised of a 360 marketing strategy, utilising platforms ranging from TV to radio, OOH and online to maximise its exposure.

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