Walt Disney is set to make a big push into Europe's largest television market, launching a free-TV version of The Disney Channel in Germany.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the go-to supplier of family programming has had the new channel in the works since purchasing free-TV broadcaster Das Vierte last year. Plans are to begin the official launch as soon as January next year.
Disney already airs four cable German language channels via Sky Deutschland and other pay TV platforms, and will charge the head of these networks, Lars Wagner, with running the new network. The channel will largely consist of German language versions of series and films from Disney's extensive library, although the corporate giant has also stated its intent to invest in local production and other original programming for the new venture.
The most puzzling part of the new deal is that Disney already owns a 50/50 stake in Super RTL, Europe's leading children's channel, and the new channel will consequently be in direct competition with it. It is unclear whether Disney will sell off its stake in the competitor, or be content with essentially cornering the market on kids' programming.
The new network is said to be part of a bigger push to increase sales of Disney-branded goods in Germany, which are lower than levels of other European countries such as France and the U.K.
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