Last year, former Disney CEO Bob Chapek announced that the company was looking to create a new membership program or expand Disney+ to offer a system similar to Amazon Prime, which would offer discounts or special perks to encourage customers to spend more on its theme parks, resorts and merchandise, through Disney+, online retailers and smartphone apps.
Bob Chapek also spoke with great excitement about the future of the Metaverse, which is a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. But, unfortunately, things have taken a drastic shift in the opposite direction, as the returning Disney CEO, Bob Iger, has begun the first wave of job cuts to try to save $5 billion across the company and one of the first divisions to feel the impact is the next-generation storytelling and consumer experiences unit.
This small unit was developing the metaverse strategies and was being led by Mike White, who was a Disney consumer products executive. The unit was trying to find new ways to tell interactive stories in new technological formats and was also developing the idea of a Disney+ Prime project. According to the WSJ, the project hasn’t been abandoned, but all 50 members of the team have lost their jobs. However, Mike White will remain at the company, but it isn’t known what role he will be taking on.
Last year, Disney+ began a test by offering a number of special items on ShopDisney for franchises, including “Frozen” and “The Mandalorian”, plus adding a shop tab within Disney+. But since that initial test, there hasn’t been anything new added or trialled.
The idea of Disney+ subscribers being offered special discounts on ShopDisney, theme parks, cruise lines and other products/services, is no doubt still something the company will look into, as its cheaper and easier to sell to an existing customer than find a new customer, but did Disney need to develop a brand new membership program to do this?
Disney isn’t the only company to pull back from the idea of a Metaverse, a word that even Bob Chapek stopped referring to as other companies like Facebook (which even rebranded its main business to Meta) have scaled back plans, as companies realise that people don’t want to spend much time in a virtual world or are unwilling to spend money on the equipment needed.
With Disney is looking to cut over 7000 jobs in the coming months, so we are likely to see many more changes and consolations within the company.
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Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.