Disney said it would pay $300 million to acquire 49 per cent of Seven TV, a broadcast channel that reaches about 40 million households, or more than 75 per cent of Russia’s measured television audience. Seven TV will remain majority owned by UTH Russia, a fast-growing media company.
The Disney Channel has long been crucial to the company’s foreign expansion strategy. When pursuing new markets, Disney typically focuses first on introducing the channel to deliver its brand directly to people’s homes. Then it uses that base to sell theme park vacations and merchandise.
Disney thought it had secured distribution for a broadcast Disney Channel in 2008, when it announced a tentative partnership with Media-One Holdings Limited, a Russian media company. But the government blocked that deal. This time Bob Iger, CEO of Disney, made a public appearance with Prime Minister Vladmir Putin.