Disney dipped its toe in the massive world of YouTube with multi-channel network Maker Studios three years ago, but now it doesn’t exactly know what to do with the same. Thus, in an attempt to achieve profitability, it has announced a restructuring exercise for this division, reports WSJ.
The company plans to shrink Maker Studios’ workforce by around 80 employees, while also cutting support for a majority of YouTube content creators signed up with them. Though most of the departing employees are from Maker Studios, some staff members from the House of Mouse’s digital publishing department are also being let go.
In addition, Disney has also decided that it will no longer work with most of its 60,000 Youtube content creators. It has massively cut down on this number and now plans to closely work with and support around 300 popular and growing channels. These will include channels that share the same core values as Disney does through its TV series and movies. So, some of our favourite YouTubers might soon shift MCN providers or operate independently.
Further, the report suggests that Disney is also planning to work towards casting YouTube stars into their own upcoming skits, films or TV series. This also enables YouTube creators to operate freely and create content with the financial backing of a giant like Disney. Or it could work the other way round as well. Disney could leverage the power and audience of YouTube influencers to advertise their original family-friendly content.
This development comes on the heels of Disney-owned Maker Studios deciding to sever ties with YouTube personality, PewDiePie (or real name Felix Kjellberg), for his anti-semitic and Nazi-related jokes in a couple of his videos. But, the report mentions that this move was in development even before PewDiePie was badgered by online media houses (looking at you WSJ!).
Disney is resorting to such heavy consolidations because there isn’t much money in YouTube partnerships. It is only gaining on the ad revenues front, but the content exclusively belongs to creators on YouTube. The company cannot exercise its right over the content or sell to other platforms to further make millions off of it. In short, the income in this business proposition is rather limited and Disney is not willing to pour humongous sums to further its growth.
Thus, Maker Studios has never been profitable till date. It was picked up by Disney for $675 million back in 2014, thanks to its more than impressive lineup of YouTube partners. But, this move is now indicative of the fact that it has completed the merger of its assets into its own business operations. However, the future of Maker Studio is now in jeopardy and depends on the brilliant strategies of Disney executives.