Skip to content
Home » Could SVOD library pruning revive video ownership and the DVR?nScreenMedia

Could SVOD library pruning revive video ownership and the DVR?nScreenMedia

Disney and WB Discovery are trimming the libraries of Disney+, Hulu, and Max’s HBO. In the process, they undermine a key benefit of SVOD, which could lead to a resurgence in video ownership and DVR usage.

Content is removed from SVOD libraries

In the drive to make direct-to-consumer services profitable, some providers are removing some content from SVOD libraries. In Disney’s last quarter earnings call, CFO Christine McCarthy said:

“We are in the process of reviewing the content on our DTC services to align with the strategic changes in our approach to content curation that you’ve heard Bob discuss. As a result, we will be removing certain content from our streaming platforms and currently expect to take an impairment charge of approximately $1.5 billion to $1.8 billion.”

She went on to say the company will be producing less content for the service in the future. Targeted for removal from Disney+ are shows like Willow and The World According to Jeff Goldblum, and Hulu will lose shows including Dollface and Maggie.

WB Discovery has also removed titles from its HBO Max (now Max) service, including Raised by Wolves and Westworld. It, too, will curtail the amount of content flowing into the service.

Removing library titles can save an SVOD service millions in license and residual fees. It can also help generate new revenue if the service releases the content on ad-supported platforms, as WB Discovery has done with Westworld.

Removing titles undermines the value of SVOD

The prospect of fewer titles available for a more limited time strikes at one of the key values of SVOD services to consumers. Until now, subscribers could rely on a service’s originals being permanently available. So, if you hadn’t gotten around to watching Raised by Wolves, it was ready when you were. Now viewers must worry that a service will remove a show before they can watch it. Worse, super fans must worry that their favorite show will vanish.

Moreover, Disney seems to be moving toward a curated model, where shows will always be coming and going. Could we be seeing the re-emergence of the Disney Vault model, where movies are made available for only a short period, and then they are gone for a decade or more?

As reported by CNBC, the change has Matt Cartelli, from New York state’s Hudson Valley, worried:

“My main takeaway is that nothing is guaranteed to remain on streaming forever. You are paying for a convenient way to watch content, but it is not a replacement for buying a movie or TV show on home video.”

He could be right, and if others agree, it could have a big impact on the trajectory of the video market.

Owning a title guarantees availability!

Share of US spending on video ownership and SVOD access 2013 2022For the last decade, consumers have been taking money applied to owning videos and putting it into access to SVOD libraries. In 2013, US consumers spent nearly $9 billion on discs and digital videos versus $3 billion on SVOD. In 2022, disc and digital sales fell to $4.4 billion, while SVOD revenue grew tenfold.

If SVOD services continue to cut library sizes and heavily curate the content, consumers could conclude that buying a favorite movie or show is a better investment in the long run. In other words, we could see a reversal in the long-term decline in the ownership of movies. People might even dust off those DVD and Blu-ray players and begin buying discs again! After all, Disney owns the dominant digital movie storage vault, Movie’s Anywhere. Who knows, they might start charging to stream the movies people own and store there.

Time to revive the DVR?

While buying a video might be a good plan for top movies and favorite shows, it doesn’t seem such a good fit for content that comes and goes due to curation. It also doesn’t work for originals that aren’t available to buy.

In traditional television, we solved these limited availability problems with a DVR. And technology is already available, which performs the same function for the streaming generation. Playon provides a cloud DVR for streaming services, and it will record shows from services like Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, and Peacock. The shows can be accessed from a mobile device and cast to a television. And it also allows users to skip commercials if the content contains them.

At nScreenMedia, we never accept payment to publish an opinion piece. However, we do accept general site sponsorship, though sponsors exert no editorial influence over our conclusions and opinions. That said, we are grateful for their patronage. Please join them. For other important disclaimers, visit


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

error: Content is protected !!