Disney+ Guts Content Amid Industry Strike, What It Actually Means

in Disney, Entertainment

Writer's Guild of America Striking outside the Walt Disney Studio with Ebenezer Scrooge

Credit: USA Today/Disney

It was announced yesterday that Disney would begin removing content from its streaming platforms Disney+ and Hulu. First mentioned in an earnings call last week, it was unclear what exactly would be affected until a list was released yesterday detailing the first set of shows and original movies to be removed within the next week.

Willow
Credit: Lucasfilm

The list contains Disney+ content like Willow, Howardand The World According to Jeff Goldblum, while the Hulu list included Dollface, Y: The Last Man, and Little Demon. While fans are confused and upset over the removal of several shows and movies, especially considering they were only available on streaming, it indicates a bigger and deeper power move by The Walt Disney Company.

Writers picket a studio
Credit: Variety

With the WGA strike currently ongoing, one of the focuses of the fight is for writers to earn more money from streaming residuals. Now SAG-AFTRA is also gearing up for a strike with a similar demand. Essentially, actors and writers are originally paid for their work during production. Residual pay is what they receive after a show has aired. The exact rate of pay for residuals is negotiated between individual studios and the workers and can vary widely.

A photo of WGA strikers in front of Fox studios, May 2023
Credit: Kristin Newman/Facebook

With the rise in streaming services, residual pay is negotiated differently and often at a much lower and less frequent rate than other content. Disney deciding to pull various content after spending millions in production and marketing means that they can declare the cost as a loss and avoid having to pay taxes and residuals on it.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) talking to Mobius (Owen Wilson) in the 'Loki' TV show
Credit: Marvel Studios

This means that while Disney will be able to recoup their money by writing it off, the actors, writers, and designers that worked on the various projects won’t see any further income from the content they worked so hard on. It’s one of the major reasons why the WGA strike is happening and why SAG-AFTRA is about to join the fight. It’s an unfortunate situation, especially considering how recent a lot of that content is, and it remains unclear as to whether or not it will affect the strike.

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