Disney to increase content spend to US$33 billion in 2022

Disney plans to increase its overall content spend to around $33bn in 2022, marking an $8bn rise from the previous year.

The company’s spend across originals, licensed content and sports rights for the 2022 fiscal year, which began on 1 October 2021, will increase from its most recent annual spend of $25bn, according to its annual report, which was filed to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Wednesday.

The increased investment will fuel Disney’s DTC non-linear expansion, through services including Hawkeye streamer Disney+, Hulu and ESPN Plus.

Original content boost

While the report did not break down exactly how the $33bn will be spent, it revealed that Disney estimates it will produce around 60 unscripted series, 30 comedy series and 25 drama shows.

There are 15 docuseries/limited series in the works, the Mouse House added, with 10 animated shows, five made-for-TV movies and numerous specials and shorts also planned via its General Entertainment.

This encompasses ABC Signature, 20th Television, Disney Branded Television, FX Productions and National Geographic Studios.

Meanwhile, Disney studios, including the Walt Disney Pictures, Twentieth Century Studios, Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Searchlight Pictures banners, are expected to produce 50 titles over the course of 2022.

These include films and episodic television programs, for both theatrical and streaming distribution, but the company noted that the timing and number of all productions could be impacted by the pandemic.

In comparison, Disney’s planned spend is almost double that of Netflix, its biggest competitor in the global streaming marketplace, which aims to spend around $17bn on content in 2022.

It is also considerably higher than the combined Warner Bros. Discovery. Once the Discovery and WarnerMedia’s merger closes, it is expected to spend $20bn on content.

Disney’s continued expansion into the DTC space looks set to continue apace, with a recent report from Digital TV Research further predicting that its global SVOD Disney+ will surpass Netflix for subscribers by 2027.

Disney+ is expected to add 140 million subscribers between 2021 and 2026 to take its total to 271 million. Netflix, meanwhile, will add 53 million subscribers through the same period, taking it to a 2026 total of 275 million.

The research firm predicts that Disney will then take the lead the following year.

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