MOSCOW and BURBANK, Calif., October 27, 2011 – The Walt Disney Company (NYSE: DIS) and UTH Russia, one of the country’s fastest growing media companies, announced today that the two companies will launch an ad-supported free-to-air Disney Channel in Russia early next year. The broadly-distributed channel will appeal to families throughout Russia by featuring Disney’s popular signature programming, as well as original Russian content.
Under the terms of the agreement, Disney, through one of its subsidiaries, will acquire a 49% stake in the Seven TV network from UTH Russia. The new Disney Channel will replace the current branding and programming of Seven TV. At launch it will reach approximately 40 million households, which represents more than 75% of the measured audience in Russia. Disney Channel will air on broadcast stations in 54 large urban markets, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, as well as hundreds of rural and remote cities and towns nationwide through other distribution agreements.
“International expansion is a key strategic priority for our company and Disney Channel has proven to be invaluable in building the Disney brand around the world,” said Robert A. Iger, president and CEO, The Walt Disney Company. “We are excited about increasing Disney Channel’s presence in Russia and delivering exceptional family entertainment to this important growth market.”
“Disney Channel became one of the most popular and beloved cable channels in Russia,” said Marina Jigalova-Ozkan, managing director for The Walt Disney Company in Russia. “We are very happy that together with such a reliable and respectful partner as UTH Disney will bring high-quality family entertainment to every family in Russia.”
Ivan Tavrin, CEO, UTH Russia, said: “We believe that our partnership with The Walt Disney Company, the global entertainment leader, will establish a popular and highly successful free-to-air business. The superb infrastructure and technical foundation of UTH in combination with Disney’s unique brand and global expertise will deliver excellent results for the Disney Channel in Russia. Seven TV’s transformation from sports to general entertainment in 2010 helped us to significantly improve its ratings and financial results, now it is time for a new page in the network’s history. I am confident about the success of the Disney Channel and our long term partnership with The Walt Disney Company.”
Commenting on the transaction, Alisher Usmanov, a UTH shareholder and major Internet and media investor in Russia, said, “We expect the family channel combining the best Disney programming with original Russian TV shows will be of great interest to the audience. We are excited that our partner, one of the world’s largest media companies, believes in the Russian market and our company.”
Disney Channels Worldwide is comprised of 100 channels in 35 languages reaching 325 million unduplicated households globally.
The deal closing is subject to the satisfaction of contractual conditions, including certain regulatory filings.
About The Walt Disney Company
The Walt Disney Company, together with its subsidiaries and affiliates, is a leading diversified international family entertainment and media enterprise with five business segments: media networks, parks and resorts, studio entertainment, consumer products and interactive media. Disney is a Dow 30 company and had annual revenues of more than $38 billion in its most recent fiscal year.
About UTH Russia
UTH Russia is one of the fastest growing media companies in Russia today. Its main assets are the MUZ and Seven TV national channels. UTH broadcasts in more than 800 towns and localities in Russia and reaches the majority of the measured television audience of the Russian Federation. UTH was established following the merger of Media One Holdings Limited’s and Art Finance & Media Limited’s television assets in August 2009.