For years, Disney+ has continued adding new films and shows every week, with brand new originals, linear network shows and content from the Disney vault.
But, like all streaming services, Disney+ does remove content. However, unlike other streaming services like Netflix, Disney doesn’t inform subscribers in advance if a title is being removed. Just one day, a title will be gone.
There are several reasons why content is removed from Disney+. The main culprit has been contracts made before Disney+ launched, which means titles are added to another streaming service temporarily until the contract expires, with the title returning back to Disney+.
In the United States, this has been a regular occurrence, due to deals with HBO, Hulu and Starz. Other reasons why a film or show is removed, sometimes, is because a license has run out, which is why some National Geographic titles have left or why some holiday specials only stay around for a limited period.
However, internationally, this wasn’t really the case. For years, we barely saw a handful of titles removed worldwide, including in the UK, Australia and Canada. But back in September, something drastic changed, as we saw several films and shows removed in bulk.
We saw a number of Star Originals removed globally, with shows like “Big Leap” and “Queens”, all of which are shows that have been cancelled after one season. This trend started earlier this year when the new owner of Warner Brothers Discovery, David Zaslav, cut dozens of original shows and films, writing them off as a tax loss. And it looks like the then Disney CEO, Bob Chapek, was inspired by this and did the same.
To go along with these Star Original removals, we also started to see films and shows removed from Disney+ in large numbers. So far, within the past few months, over 200 titles have been removed from Disney+ in the United Kingdom and Ireland, over 150 titles in Canada, over 100 titles in the Netherlands and Spain, with Australia and New Zealand losing about 40 titles. Occasionally, some of these removed titles have returned, which may have indicated an error or glitch in them being removed, but with the sheer number of titles now being removed over several months, a glitch is unlikely.
Some of these removals have been down to licensing issues, such as the Sony “Spider-Man” films, since Disney doesn’t distribute those, they’ve only got limited access to some movie as part of a more significant international deal with Sony. As Disney has continued to license more content to fulfil its European content quota, it’s going to become more common for licensed content to be removed. This is standard practice for many streaming services and isn’t necessarily anything to worry about. However, because Disney+ doesn’t provide information about titles being removed, subscribers can easily become frustrated when a show is removed when they are halfway through a season, without notice.
With hundreds of titles being removed in some countries, it has become very apparent that these removals have been done to save money. In Disney’s latest quarterly results, it was revealed that the streaming division of the company has lost over $1.5 billion in the last year. This was one of the major reasons why Bob Chapek was removed from the role of Disney’s CEO, and Bob Iger has returned. It’s also why, later this month, there will be a price rise for Disney+ in many countries, and a new ad-supported tier is being introduced in the United States.
And this is why hundreds of titles are now being removed from Disney+ internationally. To ultimately save money. While Disney might own the majority of these titles, they still cost the company money to have on the platform. Server and data costs do add up, but there will also be residual payments to the cast and crew of these titles.
So it looks very likely that Disney is going through the viewing data on Disney+ and now removing titles that aren’t being watched enough to warrant the costs of having them on Disney+.
At first, many of the titles being removed, were, honestly, films and shows, I had never heard of, but as the number of titles has increased, there are many well-known films and shows removed, including:
Cocoon: The Return
I Heart Huckabees
Down and Out in Beverly Hills
Where the Heart Is
Nothing to Lose
The Poseidon Adventure
Kung Pow: Enter the Fist
The Man From Snowy River
Removing titles from a streaming service is normal. It’s bound to happen for a variety of reasons. But Disney+ needs to implement a warning system to inform subscribers. This could be a small yellow warning notice on individual titles, or a single page within the app that has everything leaving in the next month, as other streaming platforms do. Disney even provides a full list of titles leaving Hulu every month; it doesn’t do this for Disney+.
Hopefully, many of these titles will be returned to Disney+ at some point in the future, but it doesn’t look like removals are going to be stopping anytime soon. Especially as one of the main priorities for Disney right now is to make Disney+ profitable. It’s just a shame that these cost-cutting measures are now hitting the amount of content available to subscribers worldwide. And because Disney+ doesn’t inform subscribers of these removals in advance, many people are unaware that titles are being removed in such large numbers.
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.