Disney is expected to let go of about 10% of the 380 employees at Maker Studios — the multichannel network it just acquired — as early as this week, Variety is reporting, according to insider sources.
“Maker’s business is constantly evolving, and we routinely reassess our internal resources and make strategic adjustments, reducing staff in some areas while actively hiring in others,” a company rep told Variety in a statement.
Disney bought Maker Studios in March for $US500 million. The deal is the largest so far between a studio and YouTube multichannel network; Disney could pay up to $950 million if Maker meets certain goals.
Maker Studios is one of YouTube’s largest networks, and the acquisition gives Disney a strong platform to produce online video content. Maker creates content mostly aimed at millennials, and it reportedly receives 5.5 billion views per month across all of its channels.
It’s unclear what’s prompting the layoffs. Variety speculates: “Cost-conscious Disney could be looking to trim any excess bloat on an expensive acquisition. It’s also possible select positions becoming superfluous thanks to newfound synergies with an owner looking to make its mark on Maker.”
But this might signify a new direction that Disney is taking with the channel. Bob Iger said during last month’s earnings call:
We see it first and foremost as a distribution platform and a very successful one, one that not only can command more eyeballs, more consumption, but with that more advertising revenue or revenue in general.
As we look at it, we believe that by creating access for the Maker people to some of our big brands and characters and storytelling — Star Wars would be a perfect example of that, Marvel, another one — that we can actually allow the Maker people to substantially improve the distribution or the reach of short-form video using these characters and stories, but also add their expertise on the production side.
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