Okay, found some.
After promising before launch Disney+ would not feature a rotating slate and would differ from other services by streaming its content in perpetuity, people were frustrated when shortly after the service launched titles were removed. Mere weeks after launching White Wilderness and The Shaggy Dog were removed and have not returned since. Since then it’s been a monthly battle as Disney stealthily removes titles without warning.
Disney+ is the only streaming service to engage in this shameful behavior.
It’s distasteful to claim you don’t remove content and then remove it secretly. We’ve covered this, as have many others. It’s beyond simple to announce content leaving. Our EiC revealed last year that Disney+ contains source code for “expiration warnings” in the same way they have “Coming Soon…” messaging. Yes, they have “Leaving Soon” messaging programmed in that they have chosen to not activate.
Many people worried Ricky Strauss who used to run the content team was a problem. People were angry the library content wasn’t showing up quickly and annoyed by this practice. Even after Disney clarified “very few” titles would leave for “brief periods” of time to complete pre-existing contracts, it didn’t mollify people’s feelings because very quickly more things came to light. We’ve since seen the issues must come from higher because under Joe Earley they haven’t improved.
Disney regularly removes specials that had no pre-existing contracts. January 1st, 2020, 6 weeks after launch, saw the permanent removal of Wonderful World of Disney’s Magical Holiday Celebration. Sorry, Matthew Morrison. Talk about short-lived honeymoon period. All Disney Family Sing-alongs leave after 1 year of streaming. The Holiday Family Singalong one leaves in 2 months. Peculiarly, Chadwick Boseman’s memorial left the service on the 1-year anniversary of his passing.
We are careful to suggest that nobody lied… but certainly nobody has ever been truly straightforward about the licensing complexities Disney+ faces.
While losing a few titles every month is still not anywhere near as bad as other services, that’s just moving the goal posts. Disney said one thing and hasn’t lived up to it. It’s worse than they let on and will continue to be because of strange decisions being made by the content team that seem to continue even under Joe Earley’s leadership.
We don’t doubt he’s a great guy and does good things and is probably facing a lot of internal struggles. We’ve heard Disney+ behind the scenes is not a magical place. Still, we do question his team’s decision to continue licensing content to the service for very short periods of time.
In conversations with other insiders and subscribers, we go through this every month. People losing faith and trust over these violations. We implore Joe to do more to fight for us to repair the service’s reputation.
Solutions remain simple:
- Communicate with your paying customers and potential customers
- Add expiration warnings the same way you do “coming soon” messages… the same way ALL services do. Stop being sneaky. It’s unprofessional. And sites like ours, Disney+ Informer, What’s On Disney Plus, and more ensure it doesn’t go unnoticed.
- Send a list every month to the press with “Titles Leaving in October” just like you do “Titles Arriving in October.” All other services send both! Stop acting like Disney is somehow superior and are not under the same obligations to be honest.
- Cannot emphasize this enough: Stop. Adding. Titles. That. Can’t. Stay. This is the most mindboggling bit of all. If you promise nothing leaves then backtrack on it… fine. But why exacerbate it intentionally?
We’ve revealed that in the past 10 months since January 1st, Disney has added 44 Fox titles. 7 Fox titles added this year have already been removed! 9 Fox titles added last year have also been removed. We’ve officially passed a point where the net gain on Fox titles this year has been reduced by 1/3 from the amount added.
And this was completely avoidable.
Instead of running a streaming service that sees 3 Disney films removed in an entire year (along with a handful of ABC / Disney Channel holiday specials) they choose to run a service that sees almost 20 Fox titles removed in one year. If they didn’t license Fox titles the service would not take these reputation hits each month.
September set a record – 7 titles removed in one month.
October just set a one-day record. 6 titles removed.
Something is rotten at Disney+ HQ.
Stop Short-Terming Us
Beyond that- the decision to license very short-term stays is absurd. Recent Fox additions such as Ramona & Beezus and Gulliver’s Travels streamed for shorter than 2 months and have not returned, since moving to Hulu and Prime Video. The average length of time these Fox titles have been staying is less than half a year which is ridiculous. No sooner does Disney finish promoting a new title arriving that it leaves.
This isn’t just a problem with Fox. While Disney titles RARELY leave October 1st saw Tomorrowland leave after only 27 days!! This is just deranged. Before launch Disney added bunch of “Coming Soon” pages into the service promoting when the missing Disney Pictures films would arrive.
After 22 months of Disney+ promoting a “Coming Soon” date of September 1st (later bumped to September 3rd).
TWENTY TWO MONTHS OF WAITING.
For a 27 day period.
Last year people were pissed when Cinderella (2015) finally arrived on September 1st, 2020 only to leave October 1st, 2020. One year of waiting for 1 month of streaming. Maleficent (2014) did that exact same thing! It arrived the same day Cinderella left, got heavy promotion, then left November 1st, 1 month later.
Say it with me: THIS IS ABSURD.
Disney+ subscriber Noah just pointed out that McFarland, USA, arriving in October after 2 years of waiting will probably follow the same pattern! For those unaware the Disney films from 2012-2015 are dealing with something called Starz Pay Two window. The crappy thing is Disney chose to carve out 1 month windows for this era’s films. It’s nonsense.
At launch people trusted that the “coming soon” dates pre-installed were when titles became available long-term. In most cases that seems true but we’re growing increasingly to doubt that as actions like THIS make things murkier. See how that works?
Get ready, folks.
Maleficent returned today after and 11-month absence and will almost certainly leave again November 1st. History repeats itself.
The question for the content team is: why?
Why exactly are you doing this?
Why do you mislead customers by licensing content that you pull quickly after?
Buyout Your Deals
Disney needs to revisit what happened BEFORE launch. Back when it seemed like Disney+ mattered and was truly their focus. They made significant deals to pull the Marvel and Star Wars films onto the service MANY years before their contracts expired at Starz, TNT, TBS, and other licensees.
Where is that energy and commitment now? Why has there never been any of this for Fox library?
You should not focus solely on bulking up originals. Live up to the promises you made. Get these Fox deals done sooner. And get the recent Disney films (2013-2015) on the service long-term.
Maleficent, Cinderella, Oz the Great and Powerful, Million Dollar Arm, Lone Ranger, McFarland, USA, Tomorrowland.
These titles should not be absent as we enter Year Three and we can reveal they are destined to be absent into YEAR FOUR as well if things don’t change… The moment one hits Starz a 12-15 month exclusive window begins and most of these films are expected to begin that window late this year / early next year…
Please fix it, Content Team.
Bookmark our pages to keep on top of this:
Expiration Dates (All title expiration dates on other services)
Titles Removed (All titles removed from the service that haven’t returned yet complete with whereabouts and return dates)
20th Century Fox vs Disney Films Added in 2021 (Follow along as we keep track of the comings and goings by brand)
6 titles in one day gone and most of which are major franchises that had only been added this summer.
Drew Ryan is a film, TV, and Disney geek. He has degrees in English, Student Personnel Administration, and Library & Information Science from Lawrence University, Concordia University-Wisconsin, and University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Interested in the minutia and licensing of streaming service content, he is always publishing lists, suggestions, and advocating for Disney’s missing library to be added to Disney+. Drew subscribes to Disney+, Hulu, Netflix, HBO Max, and Paramount+. You can find him waxing nostalgic over classic Disney Channel or geeking out over Marvel, CW shows, & Disney on Twitter.
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