Ever since Wall Street decided it was no longer focused on how many subscribers a streaming service has and was more interested in how much profit it makes, we’ve seen some major changes in how streaming platforms like Disney+, Netflix, and Amazon Prime operate.

The companies started a huge shift to profitability, increasing prices, introducing ad-supported tiers, and cracking down on account sharing. However, they also drastically started cutting back on the amount of original programming released, with Disney pulling back on how many expensive shows it makes for Disney+, especially from its major brands like Marvel and Star Wars.

But that isn’t the only place we’ve seen a pullback in content spending. In Southeast Asia, which includes Australia, Korea, Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Malaysia, Disney, along with other streaming services, has been drastically changing its strategy. Where once they wanted to get as many subscribers as possible to catch up with Netflix, those days are now long gone.

With Bob Iger’s return as Disney’s CEO, he embarked on a major cost-saving exercise, which resulted in the firing of over 7,000 people from the company. These cuts have had an impact around the world.

According to a recent report by Deadline, Disney has been making major cuts to its original programming across Southeast Asia and this has included 15 people being let go earlier this year in Indonesia, which impacted on around 20 to 30 projects within Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand.   Apparently, Disney did give those impacted notice a few months in advance, to help wrap things up.

Disney has also been drastically cutting back on how many originals it commissions within the region. However, it is still heavily investing in original content in countries where it deems it financial sense to do so, such as in Korea and Japan, especially as K-Dramas and Japanese Anime are popular globally, so it has much more value to the company. 

Investments are also continuing in India, though Disney is set to make a major change within the region following a recent deal to merge Disney’s Indian business, Star India, with Reliance. This will eventually see Disney+ Hotstar merge with Jiocinema to create a juggernaut platform within the region.

The executives at Disney apparently started making plans to reduce the international original slate around May of last year and started speaking to industry professionals within the region about their plans a few months later. They apparently decided to let the Indonesia-based team go in January of this year.

Many within the region had expected Disney to do the exact opposite, to drastically increase their original slate production, since they’ve been in the region much longer than other platforms like Amazon, which has also been making major cuts.

The major streaming services’ reduction of spending across the region is impacting the local filming businesses, with fewer projects getting commissioned. However, many had warned that the spending frenzy from the streaming boom was unlikely to last, especially with costs escalating.   It’s also worth noting that Disney has closed many of its linear channels across the region to focus their attention on Disney+.

Disney did meet with many of the producers working on projects for them and explained the situation.  Disney has also let some of the production companies buy back their shows at the original cost, so they can re-package them for other buyers.  Usually, studios would want an additional 10% of the total cost under buyback deals, so Disney is being fair and trying to keep local producers and talent on the side.  However, not all production companies are in a financial situation to buy back all of their projects, so they are doing them one at a time, instead leaving them on a “digital shelf”.

The boom of streaming services, especially during the pandemic, where studios were chasing as many subscribers as possible, with plans to work out how to earn money from the business at a later date, is long gone.  Streaming platforms now need to make a profit.  Disney+ is set to become profitable by the end of the year, but this has come from a drastic reduction in the amount of original content being made. 

We are still seeing local originals being created in countries where it’s financially viable, and it’s very clear that Japanese and Korean content is not only important for the local subscribers but has a big enough global audience to warrant the expense. 

Disney has been cutting back on its original content globally, so it only made sense that local content would suffer the same fate, but what do you think of this decision?    Let us know on social media!

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Roger Palmer

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. Email: Roger@WhatsOnDisneyPlus.com Twitter: Twitter.com/RogPalmerUK Facebook: Facebook.com/rogpalmeruk

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