Disney launches new channel in the Philippines

Carol Ramoran
Disney launches new channel in the Philippines
Not a lot of damsels in distress in this channel but more of superheroes and butt-kicking action

MANILA, Philippines – Make way for superheroes and action-packed series this June as Disney XD finally goes on air in the Philippines.

Well-loved characters like Spiderman, The Avengers, and your rebels from Star Wars are set to be featured on the Filipino small screen through the channel that focuses on boys – yet is girl inclusive – through values shown in the different programs.

“Sure, there’s action and there’s comedy and there’s adventure, but there are very inspiring stories, right? Inspiring characters who are really asking you like I said to bring out that inner superhero in you, and I think that is a value that even girls can relate to,” The Walt Disney Channel Southeast Asia’s Branded Content General Manager Natasha Malhotra said.

“I think comedy will bring in the girls. And also the belief in trying to be unstoppable in your pursuit of your dream, I think these are universal values on some level that even girls will relate to.”

Die-hard fans of Marvel and Star Wars also need not worry that their beloved stories and characters might get too different through the partnership with Disney. Malhorta promised that their partnership with both Marvel and Lucasfilm will be “super-serving” fans.

“In both these instances, we are partnered very closely with Marvel. Ultimate Spiderman was the first series that was produced when the two companies joined forces, so we’re really bringing the best talent and resources to produce content that will definitely super serve the fanboys, whether it’s cross Marvel or now it’s Star Wars,” Malhorta added.

She said that one of the producers of Star Wars Rebels is a fan of the series all his life and has worked on the earlier productions of Star Wars Episode II: The Clone Wars, while being a friend of George Lucas himself. With people like him who know the legacy behind the brand as the custodians of the show, Malhorta is confident that Marvel and Star Wars fan-boys (and girls) will have no qualms about their offerings.

The road to SEA

Disney XD was launched in the United States about 5 years ago and made its way to Southeast Asia through Malaysia in 2012, followed by Singapore, Thailand, and Indonesia the following year. Malhorta said that after dialogues of bringing it to the Philippines, the time is finally ripe. 

Like lots of other international companies, Disney also sees Asia – particularly the Southeast region – as a vibrant market for their movies and TV shows with numbers that are being coded in terms of pay TV growth, all in the double digits – going for 25 million to 31 million in the next 5 years. The main markets? Indonesia and the Philippines. 

Stick with tradtion, embrace change

A recent change in the Disney formula from Frozen to Maleficent in the movies, as well as their TV, shows that the brand has been embracing change that comes with modern times.

Girls and women are empowered and the line between male and female interests and dreams is also starting to thin out. As Malhorta said, never giving up and being unstoppable is not just for boys – they are something that both genders aspire for and are capable of. And that’s what such programs try to inculcate in children nowadays.

She added that Disney will continue to hone the core values adults these days grew up with – “optimism, creativity, quality, excellence.” At the same time, they will also continue to innovate through programs that families can enjoy together.

“I think they [parents] have loved Disney because Disney reflected positive values that they wanted to encourage in their children. Kids have loved us because we’ve created this world of magical stories and characters, and families have loved us basically because they could share the experience and bond together,” Malhorta said.

Disney XD joins Disney Channel and Disney Junior in Manila this June.

Shows to watch out for this year on Disney XD include: Star Wars Rebels, Avengers Assemble, Hulk and the Agents of S.M.A.S.H., Ultimate Spiderman, Kick Buttowski, Randy Cunnigham 9th Grade Ninja, Kickin’ It, and Digimon Fusion Battles– Rappler.com

Disney XD starts airing on May 31 through TV operator Cignal TV and cable distributor Accion.

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