Analyzing the impact of Disney's streamlining strategy on Disney+ and Hulu content

1 June, 2023

Disney is the latest media corporation to take steps towards streamlining content on its platforms—specifically, Disney+ and Hulu—as part of a larger cost-reduction strategy. This move is reflective of a wider industry trend where media companies are reassessing their costs and strategic plans with the aim to increase profitability. This trend is not unique to Disney; Warner Bros. Discovery has also culled several series from HBO Max, while both AMC and Showtime have made similar content cutbacks.

From the variety of titles withdrawn from Disney+ and Hulu, the show Willow on Disney+ was the most popular. During the first quarter of 2023, Willow saw a demand that was 14.6 times higher than the average show. The more than 30 titles removed from Disney+ accounted for 1.9% of the total demand (both movies and TV shows) for the platform's offerings. Interestingly, this percentage is higher than the demand share for The Mandalorian, which at 1.3%, was the most sought-after show on Disney+ during the same timeframe.

In contrast, Hulu, which has a broader content library and saw fewer titles removed, had a significantly lower share of removed titles, at only 0.4%. Among the withdrawn titles, Little Demon and Y: The Last Man were the most popular during the first quarter of the year. Despite their solid demand, neither of these shows made it onto the list of Hulu's most sought-after titles.


One critical query stemming from such situations is: How well did the removed titles perform prior to their removal? In our analysis, we'll concentrate on Disney+ TV shows, as they make up the bulk of the content that was taken down. Nearly two-thirds of these shows resided in the lower half of the platform's demand hierarchy. In other words, these programs ranked among the bottom 50% in terms of viewer demand within Disney+'s catalog. A mere 4.5% of the removed shows, equating to just one title, fell within the top 10% of the most sought-after shows. This title was Willow, a series that, despite considerable viewer interest, didn't meet the popularity levels the company anticipated given the significant investment in its production and promotion.

Between Willow and the bottom 50%, there were several titles that held a respectable demand level but did not qualify as hit shows. These were removed as well. They were series like The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers and The Right Stuff — shows that fell within the top 30-40% of Disney+'s TV series catalog. Both of these shows are Disney+ originals that currently don't have a place on any streaming platform.


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