Fans Revolt as Disney Rapidly Guts Disney+

in Movies & TV

Bob Iger in front of the Disney+ library on fire

Credit: Inside the Magic

Disney+ in 2023 is an ever-changing beast. As it hurtles toward its fourth birthday, Disney+ is being torn apart by the House of Mouse, and fans of the company and the streaming service are not best pleased.

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

Disney+ in 2023

What kind of projects have been released on Disney+ in 2023?

In 2023, The Walt Disney Company released a number of movies and TV shows onto its streaming service. From The Mandalorian Season 3, Young Jedi Adventures, and Star Wars Visions Season 2 from Lucasfilm to Marvel Studios’ Secret Invasion and the Disney Original High School Musical: The Musical: The Series Season 4, Disney+ has put out a lot of anchor content in 2023.

Grogu looking shocked in 'The Mandalorian'
Credit: Lucasfilm

How much does Disney+ cost?

Currently, Disney+ in the United States costs $7.99 per month on the ad-supported tier and $10.99 per month ad-free. Annual costs start at $79.99 with ads and $109.99 without. Alongside the solo Disney+ offering, subscribers can purchase the Disney Bundle, which includes Disney+ with ads, Hulu with ads, and ESPN+ for $12.99 per month.

Disney+ ad featuring Disney and Pixar characters
Credit: Disney+

What is still to come for Disney+ this year?

2023 still has lots in store for Disney fans. In August, Lucasfilm’s next New Republic era project, Star Wars: Ahsoka, will officially debut with a two-episode feature-length premiere. Then, in September, Disney’s most recent live-action remake, The Little Mermaid (2023), will arrive on the streaming service, followed in October by Marvel Studios’ Loki Season 2, and Echo in November.

Halle Bailey as Ariel in 'The Little Mermaid' 2023
Credit: Walt Disney Studios

Disney+ Issues

What content has been removed from Disney+ in 2023?

Disney’s Direct-To-Consumer (DTC) business has been a major focus of The Walt Disney Company since its debut, with former Chief Financial Officer Christine McCarthy previously stating Disney+ would become profitable by the end of fiscal 2024. And this remains a huge focus for Bob Iger.

Upon his return as Chief Executive Officer of The Walt Disney Company following the ousting of Bob Chapek, Iger’s focus on the streaming service has seen drastic action taken to bring Disney+ into the realm of break-even status or even profitability.

Bob Iger interviewed by ABC
Credit: ABC News

Back in May, on the second quarter fiscal 2023 earnings call, Iger and McCarthy revealed that robust content curation would be taking place across its streaming offerings. At the time, McCarthy said: “We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation.”

“As a result, we will be removing certain content from our streaming platforms and currently expect to take an impairment charge of approximately $1.5 to $1.8 billion,” McCarthy continued. “The charge, which will not be recorded in our segment results, will primarily be recognized in the third quarter as we complete our review and remove the content.”

Christine McCarthy poses in front of trees, wearing a black fur-lined jacket.
Credit: The Walt Disney Company

The news of content curation came after it was revealed that projects like the National Treasure TV series and Lucasfilm’s Willowthe latter costing the studio over $100 million to make — were canceled after one season. The former CFO added that “going forward, [Disney] intend[s] to produce lower volumes of content in alignment with this strategic shift.”

Not long after the earnings call, Disney began its content purge and left fans completely shocked. On May 26, Disney removed content across its libraries.

Disney+ Logo
Credit: Disney+

Related: DVD Nostalgia Takes Down Disney+ Following Catastrophic Changes

The final list of projects removed, per Deadline, were Big Shot, Turner & Hooch, The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, Willow, The Making Of Willow, Diary of a Future President, Just Beyond, The World According to Jeff Goldblum, Marvel’s Project Hero, The Right Stuff, The Real Right Stuff, the Cheaper by the Dozen remake, The One and Only Ivan, Stargirl, Hollywood Stargirl, and Flora & Ulysses.

Warwick Davis in 'Willow'
Credit: Lucasfilm

The list continued: Artemis Fowl, The Princess, Encore!, Black Beauty, Clouds, America the Beautiful, Better Nate Than Ever, Weird But True!, Timmy Failure, Be Our Chef, Magic Camp, Earth to Ned, Foodtastic, Stuntman, Disney Fairy Tale Weddings, Wolfgang, It’s a Dog’s Life with Bill Farmer, The Big Fib, Rogue Trip, More Than Robots, Shop Class, Pick the Litter, Own the Room, Among the Stars, Family Reboot, Gina Yei, Club Mickey Mouse (Malaysia), Harmonious Live!, and Pentatonix: Around the World for the Holidays.

After the first announcement, it was revealed that Howard (2018) would be staying on the streamer. Fans called out Disney for planning to remove Howard, the documentary about famous gay lyricist Howard Ashman, right before Pride Month and during the release of The Little Mermaid live-action remake. Ashman produced the 1989 animated version of The Little Mermaid and also co-wrote the songs with Alan Menken.

Howard Ashman working on songs for 'Beauty and the Beast'
Credit: Disney

The historic content purge caused upset online.

Dave L. (@daveleedwnundr) wrote on Howard‘s removal:

The removal of ‘Howard’ from Disney+, the only LEGAL place to watch, (it’s a Disney+ Original with no physical release) is absolutely insane. The timing could NOT be WORSE. If you haven’t yet, PLEASE watch it ASAP. It’s far too important to be lost to the sands of time.

@ix_lemon said:

What

cost cutting reasons? on a digital streaming platform

finished shows that have been airing for months, years even

what

Another tweet from @JTinTexs reads:

Granted, these were probably not highly-watched shows, but between reduced content spend and pulling old content, why would anyone want to subscribe to Disney+? If I didn’t get it at a reduced cost through my phone company I wouldn’t subscribe.

Is Disney+ going to get more expensive?

In the third quarter earnings report, Disney broke down the financial impact of their Direct-to-Consumer business.

“Direct-to-Consumer revenues for the quarter increased 9% to $5.5 billion, and operating loss decreased to $0.5 billion from a loss of $1.1 billion. The decrease in operating loss was due to a lower loss at Disney+, higher operating income at Hulu, and a lower loss at ESPN+,” the report reads.

Disney and Apple cross promote (Disney Plus) on different devices including a laptop, mobile phone, smart tv, and tablet showing various Disney+ films and Disney+ TV shows
Credit: Disney

“The improvement at Disney+ was due to higher subscription revenue and a decrease in marketing costs, partially offset by higher programming and production costs and lower advertising revenue. Higher subscription revenue was attributable to Disney+ Core subscriber growth and increases in Disney+ Core retail pricing. The increase in programming and production costs was due to higher costs for non-sports content, partially offset by a decrease in sports programming costs.”

Disney officials presenting Disney+
Credit: Disney

Disney then alluded to the 4 million subscriber loss from the previous quarter, which was largely attributed to the company not renewing the rights for the Indian Premier League (IPL). “The decreases in sports programming costs and advertising revenue reflected the comparison to IPL cricket programming in the prior-year quarter, as we did not renew the digital rights beginning with the 2023 season.”

Full 'Star Wars' Cast with Disney+ Logo
Credit: Lucasfilm

With a mixed set of results, Disney will increase prices across the board, much to the chagrin of viewers, who just had a price hike. The no-ads Disney+ tier will rise $3 from $10.99 to $13.99, while the no ads Hulu offering will go up to $17.99. Annual prices will rise to $139.99. The prices will take effect on October 12.

In the United Kingdom, there will be an ad-supported tier introduced at £4.99, with the current Disney+ offering rising to £10.99, although viewers will have the option to scale down to £7.99 for fewer features.

Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu logos
Credit: Disney

Related: Disney+ Canceled Amid Speculations of Apple Purchase

The focus on streaming, as well as the increase in price and purging of content, is part of Iger’s plan to save $5.5 billion dollars company-wide. But fans are not happy with the increase.

@nerdsleaze pulled figures from Google to highlight the upsurge in searches for ‘Cancel Disney Plus.’

‘Cancel Disney Plus’ searches surge worldwide after streaming service’s price hike announced. Searches for ‘Cancel Disney Plus’ increase by 510% in just a few hours. It is the biggest spike seen worldwide in the past seven months. In the latest price change by a major streaming platform, Disney+ has announced its ad-free plan will increase from $10.99 to $13.99 in the US. Source: Google Trends

Donald G. (@GOOCH1701) said:

I had been inclined to hang on to Disney Plus as there were a few old series I was interested in revisiting, but given the recent news, I’m out @DisneyPlus. Price increase plus password share crackdown means I’m out. Good luck storming the castle.

Carla D. (@CarlaDay) wrote:

The thing about the Hulu/Disney+ price increase is the main reason to have Hulu is to watch network shows the next day ad-free. With the strike delaying new episodes, there’s no reason to keep Hulu. And Disney releases new shows/movies so sparingly it’s not worth the cost alone.

Does Disney+ allow password sharing?

Password sharing has been a hot topic ever since streaming giant Netflix announced and executed its password-sharing crackdown protocol. Now, Disney+ is looking into targeting password-sharing accounts in order to boost viewership with new accounts.

During the third quarter call, Iger said Disney is actively exploring ways to address account sharing. The CEO stated that his unpopular method is an opportunity to grow the business as there are a “significant” number of account holders who share passwords.

Bob Iger wearing a suit and tie
Credit: Disney

Brooke B. (@brooke_brookman) said:

Of course Disney is raising prices and cracking down on password sharing. We let @netflix get away with it, why not @DisneyPlus #CancelNetflix #CancelDisneyPlus

@JaceAVinson expressed their views:

ARE YOU KIDDING ME? I CAN’T ACCESS NETFLIX ANYMORE BECAUSE OF THE PASSWORD SHARING THING! AND HULU & DISNEY+ ARE DOING THIS SOON TOO? I HATE BIG COMPANIES! @Netflix @Disney @WaltDisneyCo @DisneyPlus @Hulu #Netflix #Disney #Disney100 #DisneyPlus #Hulu

Matt Z. (@MattZionWE) said:

Netflix gained a ton from the move. Disney will too. But this move is putting a bandaid on an open would. Their lack of good content means they’ll always be on a slow downward trend. But that leads to anti consumer ideas like blocking password sharing in the short term.

How many subscribers has Disney+ lost?

Yahoo! stated that “the company reported 146.1 million total Disney+ subscribers, a 7.4% decline from the previous quarter. Analysts polled by Bloomberg had expected a narrower loss of 154.8 million paying users.” This falls drastically short of the likes of Netflix, which has a subscriber base of 238 million, per reports made at the end of the second financial quarter.

Not even four years old, Disney+ is still in its infancy. But as more changes come down the pipeline, will the company’s drastic measures save it or break it?

What do you think about all the changes happening with Disney+ in 2023? Let Inside the Magic know in the comments down below!

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