Disney will be yanking content from streaming as it rethinks its costs and strategy, and is looking at a content impairment charge of $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion as it does.
“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 CFO Christine McCarthy on the company’s post-earnings call.
“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. 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.”
She didn’t specify any programming.
Disney+ recently canceled Willow and National Treasure after one season.
But, she said, “going forward, we intend to produce lower volumes of content in alignment with this strategic shift.”
McCarthy also noted another upcoming $180 million charge for the rest of the company’s 2023 fiscal year (ends in Sept.) following a hit last quarter of $150 million mostly due to severance. Disney is laying off 7,000 staffers and said today it is on track to meet or exceed planned cost savings of $5.5 billion.
Pulling content off the service goes hand in hand with making less of it, or, as CEO Bob Iger put it on the call, “getting much more surgical about what we make.”
He said the company has spent a lot of time and money producing and marketing content that didn’t move the needle in terms of subscribers.
“When you make a lot of content, everything needs to be marketed. You’re spending a lot of money marketing things that are not going to have an impact on the bottom line, except negatively due to the marketing costs.”
Iger gave a shout-out to theatrical films, especially tentpoles, as great sub drivers. “But we were spreading our marketing costs so thin that we were not allocating enough money to even market them when they came onto the service. Coming up, Avatar, Little Mermaid, Guardians of the Galaxy, Elemental etc.. where we actualy believe we have an opportunity to lean into those more, put the right marketing dollars against it, allocate more basicaly away from programming that was not driving any subs at all.”
He called it “part of the maturation process as we grow into a busines that we had never been in. We are learning a lot more about it. Specifically, we are learning a lot more about how our content behaves on the service and what customers want.”
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