Report: Disney’s Maker Studios cutting support for more than 55,000 YouTubers

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Disney is set to lay off approximately 80 people and drop support for more than 55,000 YouTubers currently backed by its Maker Studios division.

The Wall Street Journal is reporting the move has been in development since before PewDiePie made headlines last week for posting a series of videos to YouTube that featured anti-Semitic messages. Disney’s Maker Studios division will reportedly stop promoting numerous YouTubers’ channels and cease selling ads, but hasn’t said who that affects just yet. Disney and Maker currently support more than 60,000 YouTubers.

The company is apparently looking to bring the total number of YouTubers it supports to around 300. The creators the company backs will feature channels that share the same core values the company stands behind with its own series or films. Most interesting, however, is the decision to incorporate the YouTubers under the Disney banner, helping them work with other divisions in the company. Most of the YouTubers currently working with Maker, like PewDiePie previously, benefit from having the financial backing of a company without having the responsibility of having to act as the public face of the company.

For example, YouTubers aren’t actors like Chris Hemsworth or Scarlett Johansson who have signed morality clauses as part of their employment with Disney. Based on this report, however, it appears Disney wants to use its smaller pool of YouTube talent in other avenues and integrate its own products and stars into YouTube channels that have large followings and are family friendly.

Disney purchased Maker Studios in March 2014 for $675 million and and the Journal writes that it’s been a struggle for the company to figure out how to make a bigger profit off of YouTube talent. The plan to layoff employees and hyper-focus on YouTubers it wants to promote has been in development for quite some time.

PewDiePie apologized for the videos on Feb. 16 in an 11-minute video attacking the press for allegedly misrepresenting him and unfairly attacking him. The controversy led to PewDiePie losing support and advertisements from Disney and Google as both companies cut ties with the personality. His YouTube Red series, Scare PewDiePie, was also canceled ahead of the show’s second season.

“I’m sorry for the words that I used, as I know they offended people, and I admit the joke itself went too far,” PewDiePie said.

Polygon has reached out to both Maker Studios and Disney for comment.

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