Fox Sports to shut Taiwan channels

The Taiwanese arm of pan-Asian sports pay-television broadcaster Fox Sports is to shut down before the end of this year.

Fox Sports in Asia, which is owned by The Walt Disney Company, operates three channels in Taiwan – Fox Sports, Fox Sports 2 and Fox Sports 3 – all three of which are to shut by the end of the year. Management announced the closure to staff last Friday after the news leaked to local media. The local media reports said the reason for the shutdown was several consecutive years of losses.

Reports in Taiwanese media that Fox Sports is shutting down across Asia are understood to be inaccurate. A spokesperson for Disney told SportBusiness, “There is no change to Fox Sports channels across all markets in Southeast Asia, which will continue to provide live and exclusive action-packed sporting events to viewers and fans across the region for the foreseeable future.”

Disney operates Fox Sports channels in a host of Asian markets outside Taiwan, including major markets like Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand. There have been questions raised over the future of the Fox Sports business in Asia since Disney took over. Many of the company’s experienced sports executives have been let go, there have been large pay cuts for presenters, and sports media industry insiders say the sports acquisitions strategy is unclear. It has recently lost rights to some significant properties, including German Bundesliga football in several Asian markets.

Disney has also withdrawn the Fox Sports brand from Japan and South Korea since it took over. Under a collaboration with local broadcaster JTBC, it launched the JTBC3 Fox Sports channel in South Korea in 2015. Earlier this year, the channel was renamed JTBC Golf&Sports. Japanese mixed sports and entertainment channel Fox Sports Entertainment was closed earlier this year.

Taiwanese news website Mirror Media reported that the closure of Fox Sports Taiwan was announced to staff by David Shin, Disney’s VP and general manager for Hong Kong and Taiwan. Shin was appointed in June last year and is responsible for Disney’s direct-to-consumer, studio, content sales and channels businesses in the two markets. He reports to Luke Kang, managing director of Disney in North Asia.