One of the biggest complaints about the world of streaming is that so many shows are cancelled, often after just a single season and in the past year, Disney has been ruthless in how many shows it has cancelled, as across its linear networks and its streaming services, there have been hundreds of cancellations.
While cancellations aren’t anything new, since they’ve been happening ever since Television was created, but in the past few years, we’ve seen cancellations become much more common.
The biggest reason for this is due to a drastic shift in how streaming services went from trying to get as many subscribers as possible, by using original programming to pull people in, to suddenly being forced to focus on profitability, when the streaming bubble burst and Wall Street started demanding results.
Disney and Warner Brothers Discovery have been hitting their cancellation buttons much more than any other platform, mainly due to them having to sort out the financial messes of mergers, Disney with 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers with Discovery. Both studios went on a purge, wiping out billions of dollars worth of original programming, but not just cancelling shows, but by completely removing them as an impairment charge, as an asset they viewed as no longer valuable.
Back in May, Disney removed and cancelled many original shows, including “Big Shot”, “Willow”, “The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers”, and “The Mysterious Benedict Society”, in addition to dozens more. And more cancellations have continued throughout the summer, including most recently, “Doogie Kamaloha MD”.
According to some new data released by Variety, Disney comes out as one of the worst studios for cancellations, beating out Netflix and even Max. The data covered all shows (scripted and unscripted) cancelled between 2020 and August 8th, 2023.
According to the chart, the major streamers, which include Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, Amazon Prime Video, Max, Apple TV+, Peacock, and Paramount+, have overall had a combined average cancellation rate of 12.2% —which is not much higher than linear TV (10.8%), but less than half of broadcast TV alone over that period.
However, when you consider that many of the broadcast and linear cancellations come from the same traditional studios like Warner Brothers, Paramount, and Disney, the actual cancellations numbers for these studios are going to be much worse. Plus, if you combine Hulu and Disney+ together, which is how Disney+ operates outside the US, a combined platform hits 36.3%. This is over three times more than Netflix, which often gets a bad reputation for cancelling everything.
Generally, the data has shown that most cancellations of shows happen after the first season, since this is when a series is considered either a hit or a flop. If a show hasn’t pulled in enough viewers, studios will generally look to cut their losses and move on to the next project, rather than continue to invest in something that isn’t clicking with audiences. With social media, more people are now aware of any cancellations than at any time before, but also, with both Disney and Warner Brothers axing huge numbers of failed originals to balance the books, the number of cancellations is much higher this year.
Following the return of Disney’s CEO Bob Iger, there has been a huge shift in their programming, with fewer projects being greenlighted and fewer new releases to help save money but also to focus on creating a more curated lineup of better quality originals, hopefully, moving forward, we will see fewer cancellations from Disney.
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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.