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Disney Preps Global Launch of 'The River'

The Walt Disney Company is planning to premiere the The River in eight countries around the world soon after the U.S. debut on ABC on Tuesday, Feb. 7.

The global premiere of the series, which is from executive producer Steven Spielberg and the director of Paranormal Activity Oren Peli, marks the first time a series distributed by Disney Media Distribution will air internationally so close to the American premiere in so many markets.

"Our distribution team has been dedicated to developing and implementing a variety of windowing strategies that maximize the value of our content," said Ben Pyne, president, Global Distribution, Disney Media Networks in a statement. "`The River' has resonated strongly with our worldwide partners and we're very pleased so many will be timing their roll-out of the series with the U.S. premiere."

The international broadcasters who will begin airing The River within 48 hours following the U.S. broadcast include: CTV in Canada, Kanal 5 in Sweden, TV Norge in Norway, AXN in Poland, Yes in Israel, Fox in South Korea, HBO NL in the Netherlands and Star World in the Philippines.

In addition, Disney has also cut a deal to make the series available to U.K. audiences before its television broadcast, with the series hitting the iTunes market on Feb. 8, one day after the U.S. broadcast on ABC.

Sky Italia, Fox Spain, Star World India and Star HK Hong Kong are also planning to air The River within weeks of its U.S. premiere.

Overall, Disney has licensed The River to 182 territories.

The launch of U.S. series in international markets has traditionally lagged significantly behind their U.S. launches because of the need to dub or subtitle the materials. In recent years, however, reducing the time between the U.S. premiere and international airings has become increasingly important as a way to reduce and to keep the story lines fresh for international audiences.

Disney has been an early leader in that trend. In 2010, Disney Media Distribution moved up the delivery of the series finale of Lost so that an unprecedented 59 countries could air the final episode within 48 hours after the U.S. broadcast.