By Jess Weatherbed, a news writer focused on creative industries, computing, and internet culture. Jess started her career at TechRadar, covering news and hardware reviews.
If there’s a show on Disney Plus or Hulu that you’ve been meaning to watch then you might want to do so quickly before it is pulled from the platforms for good. According to a report by Deadline, Disney is about to remove dozens of series (and a few films) from both streaming services, including Willow, Y: The Last Man, and Turner & Hooch, as part of the entertainment giant’s broader cost-cutting measures.
During Disney’s Q2 earnings call earlier this month, Disney CEO Bob Iger and chief financial officer Christine McCarthy announced plans to remove some content from its streaming services after revealing Disney Plus had lost 4 million subscribers in the first three months of 2023.
“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,” said McCarthy on the company’s post-earnings call, adding that Disney expects to pay a content impairment charge of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion for the removals. According to Variety, Iger has targeted $3 billion in savings for 2023 after spending almost $30 billion on content for the Disney Plus streaming service last year.
However, Disney has since reversed plans to remove some of its content after receiving backlash over its planned removal of Howard, a documentary about Howard Ashman, a gay man who helped write the songs in Beauty and the Beast and The Little Mermaid. According to Deadline, the company will no longer take the film down, with a company spokesperson stating that “the list of titles coming off of Hulu and Disney+ next week is still being finalized.”
Disney’s decision to purge content follows similar cost-cutting moves by HBO Max and Showtime to avoid paying out for under-performing library titles. Willow, the revival of Ron Howard’s 1988 fantasy film of the same name, is a surprise inclusion among the list of shows being removed considering it had only started airing in November. Many series like Willow and The World According To Jeff Goldblum were heavily promoted by Disney. “They gave us six months. Not even,” said Willow writer John Bickerstaff on Twitter in response to the news. “This business has become absolutely cruel.”
This wave of content removals follows a rough couple of years for Disney’s economic outlook. The company laid off 7,000 employees and announced plans to restructure key parts of the business earlier this year. Disney has also been hesitant to buy out Comcast’s 33 percent stake in Hulu as it intended in 2019, and recently announced the closure of its absurdly expensive Star Wars-themed hotel experience.
The following titles are anticipated to be removed from Disney Plus and Hulu on May 26th, according to Deadline:
Update May 19th, 5:42PM ET: Updated to note that Disney no longer has plans to remove Howard.
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