The Walt Disney Company's 2022 Annual Report suggests that the company is planning to reduce their 2023 movie and TV output. In the wake of Bob Chapek's dramatic exit from the company just over a week ago, and the subsequent return of Robert Iger as CEO, it appears Disney is looking to make significant changes in the realm of its content output.
In the Q3 2022 earnings report, it was revealed that $1,061 billion dollars were lost by their direct-to-consumer segment. This portion of the business deals with Hulu, ESPN+, and of course, Disney+, which houses the likes of Pixar, Marvel, and Star Wars. The Disney company noted that this was in part due to "higher loss at Disney+".
These operational losses come despite the number of subscribers to Disney+, surpassing 164 million worldwide at the start of October this year. It also comes despite the release of highly anticipated projects from heavyweight franchises such as Marvel and Star Wars.
And because of all this, it looks as if the studio's 2023 will be a little thinner.
Disney to Decrease Content for Disney+ in 2023
Disney's recently released 2022 Annual Report has disclosed an interesting detail, that its 2023 release plans will be skinnier than in the past.
It seems that Disney+'s operational losses have been a concern for the company, as they plan to considerably lower the number of titles produced by its studios, including Walt Disney Pictures, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, Twentieth Century Studios, and Searchlight Pictures banners.
In its 2021 Annual Report, the company announced that:
In fiscal 2022, the Studios plan to produce approximately 50 titles, which include films and episodic television programs, for distribution theatrically and/or on our DTC platforms. The timing and number of productions could be impacted by COVID-19.
However, it seems that this strategy has been altered for the upcoming year, as highlighted below:
In fiscal 2023, the Studios plan to produce approximately 40 titles, which include films and episodic television programs, for distribution theatrically and/or on our DTC platforms.
As such, the company is planning to produce 40 titles in the 2023 fiscal year, down 20% from the from 50-title goal for 2022.
Even though they are set to decrease the production of projects under the Studios banner, it seems that Disney's General Entertainment division is set to pick up the slack.
Incorporating the likes of ABC Signature, Disney Television Animation, and FX productions, their Q4 earnings report also revealed that Disney's General Entertainment side hopes to "produce or commission more than 270 original programs."
Comparatively, the 2021 earnings report estimated just over 145 programs for Disney's General Entertainment output.
What Will This Mean for Disney+'s Future?
Whilst a decrease of 10 titles may not seem like a lot, it is interesting that Disney is balancing out streaming production with more traditional programming methods.
Of course, given the internal upheaval that the company has been facing, it is no surprise that such structural changes to the company's operations are taking place.
Whether or not Iger played a part in this remains to be seen. It could just be that the Disney company wishes to humble its expectations for Disney+ in the wake of changes in the boardroom.
However, Disney does expect returning CEO Robert Iger to initiate "organizational and operating changes". Reportedly, Iger is already moving fast, and this may have been one of the first issues he has played a part in since his reinstatement.
Many fans feel that Disney+ projects are rushed and that the strict episode count for Disney+ projects has become something many fans loathe.
It may be beneficial for the streaming service to sit back and pace itself. Fans are not only less likely to be burnt out, but projects can better pace themselves, something which the highly acclaimed Disney+ show Andor has been particularly praised for.