Sep 26, 2023 - Economy

Exclusive: Biggest streaming companies join first official trade group

Illustration of a TV with a cursor on the screen surrounded by dimes, nickels, a phone, scissors and remotes

Illustration: Natalie Peeples/Axios

The world's biggest streaming companies are coming together to launch the industry's first unified coalition, the Streaming Innovation Alliance (SIA).

Why it matters: The streaming industry has faced few regulatory threats over the past decade, but that's changing as more television consumption moves to digital.

Details: The new group is led by two former policymakers acting as senior advisers: former Republican Rep. Fred Upton and former Democratic Federal Communications Commission (FCC) acting chair Mignon Clyburn.

  • Its board is comprised of the biggest streaming companies in the world, including Netflix, Paramount+, Warner Bros. Discovery's Max, Comcast's Peacock, Disney, TelevisaUnivision and Univision's ViX, as well as smaller, niche streamers, such as ForUsByUs Network, Vault and
  • Charles Rivkin, the CEO and chair of the Motion Picture Association (MPA), a trade group representing Hollywood's biggest movie studios, played a key role in organizing the alliance.
  • In a statement, Rivkin said the MPA "looks forward to working with the SIA and its members to ensure federal and state policy propels this incredible innovation forward — and doesn't undermine the value and diversity consumers are enjoying today."

Noticeably missing from the group are Apple, Amazon and a few of the major ad-supported streaming companies such as Roku and Tubi. A spokesperson for the coalition said it welcomes more members.

  • Streamers such as Pluto and Hulu — which are owned by Paramount and Disney, respectively — are represented in the group by their parent companies.

Be smart: As regulators consider new laws for the digital era, streamers focused on premium content want to ensure they're not being held to the same legal standards as user-generated content platforms, like TikTok or Meta.

  • One example is the Kids Online Safety Act (KOSA), a bill introduced in Congress earlier this year that aims to protect young kids from extremist or dangerous content online.
  • Consumer groups believe that law is too broad, and unnecessarily lumps streaming companies, which distribute curated and vetted content, with social media platforms.

Between the lines: Streaming companies also want to ensure their collective power is harnessed when the industry faces new regulatory threats.

  • Currently, they face a challenge from local broadcasters that are trying to urge the FCC to take action on a regulatory loophole that they say imperils their ability to get distributed on streaming services.
  • A few streaming companies have joined a small coalition set up to fight that battle, but that group isn't designed to tackle a broader array of regulatory issues long-term.

Zoom in: A spokesperson said SIA plans to partner and support other coalitions on common issues but have a broader mission in telling positive stories about streaming companies

  • Some of the messages the group is focused on specifically include the power of streaming in delivering consumer choice, affordability and diversity.

The big picture: Streamers have never had a unified voice in Washington.

  • Some firms, like Netflix, were part of the now-defunct Internet Association that dissolved in 2021. Netflix left the group in 2019 and instead joined the MPA.
  • Disney, Warner Bros. Discovery, Comcast, and others are part of a slew of trade groups representing various aspects of their wide-ranging businesses, such as broadcast, cable and wireless communications, but none of those groups are designed to advocate for streaming companies.

Editor's note: This story has been corrected to note that Mignon Clyburn is a former policymaker, not a former member of Congress.

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