Disney’s Maker Studios Confirms Cutbacks Across Company, Not Just Among Its Creators

Decision based on being able to reach the right audience at scale

Maker Studios is reorganizing and cutting jobs. Sources: Maker Studios
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After distancing itself from PewDiePie last week, Maker Studios, a multichannel network acquired by Disney in 2014 for $675 million, is moving forward with other big changes to its team and talent network.

While PewDiePie’s departure was brought on by multiple anti-Semitic references and remarks made by him personally on his channel to his 53 million subscribers, Maker Studios may have been contemplating the changes announced today for some time.

In December 2016, Maker announced it would be folded into Disney’s media arm under Disney Consumer Products and Interactive Media. The company previously went through a round of layoffs in July of last year.

Rumors of this latest round of layoffs suggested that Disney would not renew the contracts of creators with smaller audiences.

According to Digiday’s earlier report, Maker Studios continued to add more and more creators to its network to bulk up the collective number of video views, but that didn’t necessarily make the company more profitable.

Maker Studios is announcing today a reorganization effort to better capture both Disney and non-Disney audiences. Andrew Sugerman, who previously was the evp of content and media and the overall leader of Maker Studios, is now the evp of publishing and digital media within DCPI. The Publishing and Digital Media branch will encompass both print publishing and digital publishing businesses.

This decision will both bring some of Maker’s content creators closer to Disney’s network, while eliminating some roles on the business side of Maker.

Around 80 roles are being reduced from Maker’s business focus, according to sources familiar with the company. Some creators will also be let go; although Maker couldn’t confirm an exact number, the company did confirm that its talent network will be fewer than 1,000 creators.

We’re building a digital media network of Disney and non-Disney content for kids and millennials on the platforms they use every day,” said Sugerman in a statement. “For advertisers, this network offers mobile, video, short-form content, micro-content, and influencers, all at scale.”

Maker Studios is still slated to present at this year’s NewFronts and is also planning on announcing new projects throughout the rest of the year, some of which will include both Disney property and Maker creators.

@samimain sami.main@adweek.com Sami Main is social editor for Adweek, where she posts Adweek content onto social platforms and looks for creative ways to communicate what's new.