With cost-cutting becoming one of the key issues that Disney CEO Bob Iger has had to deal with since his return, during a recent quarterly investors call, he said that they are looking to reduce spending on general entertainment content by $3 billion, which will include a reduction in global originals.
In the past few years, Disney has released a number of new originals within the EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) region, including “Wedding Season”, “Extraordinary”, and “Weekend Family”. Disney is currently planning on creating 60 local productions by 2024, and the majority of those shows are being released on Hulu in the US, but things might be changing.
In a recent interview with Disney’s EMEA VP of originals, Liam Keelan, that might be shifting, as he told TBI he was “happy to look at different models.”
“What we have done with many of the series commissioned so far is to take all rights and everywhere – and where there is Disney+, then we have a window on that service and then obviously on Hulu in the States. But that isn’t to say we wouldn’t look at coproductions or other models – every case can be looked on in its own merits”.
Disney has been looking at making more money from its shows and even openly talked about licensing out content, so could we see Disney-created international originals be licensed to other streaming platforms in the US, rather than going directly to Hulu? Depending on the future of Hulu, which Disney is currently looking into either selling or purchasing the remaining 33% stake of from Comcast. It does look like the current release system could potentially change.
When asked if Disney+ would consider ordering a new show with a partner in one of its key EMEA markets, Keelan said he “wouldn’t rule it out.” Disney is already working with the BBC on a number of new projects, including the FX adaptation of “Great Expectations” and new seasons of “Doctor Who”.
Disney+ is still in its early stages, with the addition of the Star brand only happening two years, which introduced more opportunities to create content for adults, but during a Growthlab event in London, he said local content is still “really important” but added that Disney wanted to avoid “being too prescriptive over genre or sub genres”.
“We are still at a very early stage and what we are looking for are things that feel different to what else is in the market. We don’t want to replicate what else is out there – we want new voices or established voices with stories that haven’t been told yet, or with twists on existing genres.”
Creating content is extremely expensive. With Disney spending billions of dollars each year and with the focus shifting to making a profit, rather than chasing subscribers, we will likely see Disney’s global strategies changing. Sharing productions with other companies could reduce those costs, without impacting on Disney’s ability to offer local content for subscribers. In many countries, streaming services have quotas that force them to create some content or pay towards the local industry, so stepping back completely might not be an option, but it’s likely we will see different plans in the future.
But perhaps the biggest change, could be if international originals from Europe, the Middle East and Africa, go to another platform in the US, rather than Hulu? That would be a big shift from what Disney has been doing lately!
What do you think of international Disney+ Originals not being released on Hulu in the US? Let us know on social media!
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.