Disney Dilutes More Content, Gives Away Classic Series To Save Streaming Service

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'Once Upon a Time' characters gather together on the show's promotional picture

Credit: Disney

Disney is going full steam ahead with its mission to boost revenue – even if that means abandoning the exclusivity of its content.

The road has been rough for Disney+. Its initial launch in 2019 was a massive success – signing up more customers in one day than HBO Now, CBS All Access + Showtime, ESPN+, DAZN, and Crunchyroll combined in their entire histories – and global COVID-19 lockdowns only increased demand for the streaming service.

All of the different Disney+ titles surrounding the logo
Credit: Disney

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However, once the world started to return to normal, things quickly went downhill. Disney+ has struggled to retain subscribers. According to Disney’s Q3 2023 Earnings Call, subscribers dropped to 146.1 million, which falls short of Disney’s goal of 154.8 million subscribers and follows another big loss in Q2.

Since then, Disney CEO Bob Iger has announced that Disney is pulling back on new releases and scrapping numerous original titles – which means less content on Disney+ and less motivation to pay for the service in general.

Bob Iger posing in front of several screens displaying various Disney owned properties
Credit: Disney

In the months following this decision, Disney has not only culled the likes of the fantasy-adventure television series Willow, the National Geographic series The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and the romantic-comedy Rosaline (2022), but it’s also abandoned projects already in production, such as Spiderwick Chronicles (which had apparently already wrapped filming).

Another tactic to boost viewership (and, therefore, revenue) is distributing its content to other streaming services or channels. While the idea of a Disney+ Original is surely that you can only see it on Disney+, the platform recently aired Ms. Marvel on ABC, and it’s since added the likes of The Simpsons to Hulu.

Hulu homepage
Credit: Hulu

Related: Disney Eliminates Cheaper Ad-Free Disney+ Service

Now, another series is branching out to Hulu, too. According to Deadline, Once Upon a Time – the fairy-tale-inspired TV series that originally aired on ABC between 2011 and 2018 – will start streaming on Hulu on September 1.

Starring the likes of Jennifer Morrison (Emma Swan), Ginnifer Goodwin (Mary-Margaret/Snow White), Lana Parrilla (Regina Mills/The Evil Queen), Josh Dallas (Prince Charming), and Robert Carlyle (Mr. Gold/Rumpelstiltskin), the show heavily borrowed elements of Disney classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), Beauty and the Beast (1991), Peter Pan (1953), and Frozen (2013).

The Evil Queen holds an apple out to Snow White
Credit: Disney

In short, it was one of the most quintessentially ‘Disney’ projects out there. Pushing it to another platform as well as Disney+ makes sense from a business perspective. After all, more eyes on Disney content equals more money. However, it’s also just another reminder that Disney is willing to muddle its own identity for the sake of revenue.

The move comes as both Disney prepares to merge Disney+ and Hulu by the end of the year. Disney currently owns a 67% share in Hulu, with Comcast owning the remaining 33%.

Do you want Disney to merge Disney+ and Hulu or keep the two streaming platforms separate? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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