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Inside the Stream – The consequences of SVOD library cutsnScreenMedia

Services like Disney+ and Max are cutting titles from their libraries, including some originals. Does this weaken the value of SVOD, and what can subscribers do about it?

Top news stories (1:00)

SVOD library pruning impacts a core value of the services (11:30)

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.

TV Shows Catalog Comparison_ Discovery+ vs. HBO Max vs. MAX ReelgoodWB Discovery has also removed titles from its HBO Max (now Max) service, including Raised by Wolves and Westworld. And Max, which combines HBO Max and Discovery+, has 50% less content than the two separate services. 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.

One of the core values of SVOD is that users can rely on the content being there when they want to watch it. But if providers remove content after its initial service release, this undermines the value of the services because subscribers cannot rely on the content being there when they are ready to watch.

If the content leaves, will anyone notice? (21:40)

Some of the content leaving services are less popular titles, and none of them are recent. So, that begs the question, will anyone notice if they leave? However, even less popular titles attract some viewers. And if viewers can’t rely on the title being available, it is liable to cause nervousness, not a desirable emotion to stir in subscribers.

Does removing content simplify the experience for users? (24.10)

Removing content may make it easier for users to decide what to watch. FAST services are already doing this by limiting the number of channels available.

Could people start buying videos and using DVRs again? (25:30)

We discuss if the fact that subscribers can’t rely on titles being available in a service could lead them to spend more on buying favorite titles or subscribing to a DVR service.

Younger people might not be attracted to buying or recording videos (31:40)

Younger people are not accustomed to either buying videos or using a DVR. Would they be likely to adopt them? We also discuss how much content is not making it to the streaming world.


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