x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Disney strikes free-to-air deal in the Middle East

Blockbuster movies and television series from the Disney media empire will soon be screened free-to-air in the Middle East, after a new deal announced in Dubai today.

Blockbuster movies and television series from the Disney media empire will soon be screened free-to-air in the Middle East, after a new deal announced in Dubai today. Disney, which owns the ABC television channel, Pixar animation studio and a host of successful film production houses, will partner with two regional free-to-air channels, Fox Movies and Fox Series. The two free-to-air channels launched in the past year as joint ventures between Fox and the Saudi-owned Rotana Group.

Rotana is owned by Saudi Arabia's Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal, the billionaire investor who is a major shareholder of both Disney and News Corporation, the parent company of Fox. News Corporation is expected to announce a significant investment in Rotana in January, acquiring 10 per cent to 20 per cent of the company. Rotana said it paid Dh100 million to Disney for the rights to screen its content.

Disney films such as Wall-E and Pirates of the Caribbean, and the comedy series Ugly Betty, have previously been screened on regional pay TV channels, accessed by less than 5 per cent of the region's television viewers. The new partnership will bring the content to the Middle East's booming satellite free-to-air television market. tgara@thenational.ae