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Photo: Lionel Bonaventure/AFP/Getty Images

Steven Spielberg made waves this week when he suggested a rules change that would disqualify movies from Oscars consideration that debut on streaming services or only appear in a short theatrical window. He argued they should be eligible for Emmy Awards instead.

Why it matters: Members of the creative community pushed back, arguing that Spielberg was attempting to preserve the old guard. Netflix tweeted in response that it gives people better access to movies and gives filmmakers more opportunities. Its film "Roma" received 3 Oscars this year, but was passed up for "Best Picture."

Between the lines: The tension between the theater industry and Netflix has been intense, as Netflix needs to play nice with theaters, even if its product competes with them.

Expand chart
Data: Motion Picture Association of America and Macrotrends; Chart: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The big picture: It's not just theaters Netflix is battling against, but the entire Big Media establishment.

Driving the news: Matthew Ball, former head of strategy at Amazon Studios, is out with a new post Tuesday that explains why it'll take years for traditional media companies to produce service that will be truly competitive to Netflix in the OTT (over-the-top) streaming video space.

What he's saying: 2019 is supposed to be the year Big Media comes after Netflix, but it isn't. And 2020 won't really be either.

  • Disney+ will inevitably steal watch time from Netflix, but it will be years until it's a threat and is unlikely to ever steal subscribers.
  • WarnerMedia is stuck in licensing agreements that will limit its appeal. Its real offering won't launch until H2 2020, and it seems unlikely to make the big decisions (like taking Friends off Netflix) needed to win. And even then, it will only affect Netflix in only select markets.
  • NBC's ad-supported streaming service will compete with Netflix globally, but ad-supported content tied to the pay-TV ecosystem will make it hard for the service to compete meaningfully with Netflix for consumer time spent. 
  • Hulu is Netflix's fastest-growing competitor, but its library of content is expected to shrink as its owners (NBCUniversal, WarnerMedia) invest in their own services. In addition, Hulu is far from being able to replicate its U.S. library of network content internationally, and it will take 1–2 years to deploy Disney-Fox IP for their originals.
  • Apple and Amazon aren't technically "Big Media," but neither will knock Netflix off its throne. Apple won't spend rigorously enough to seriously compete with Netflix. Instead, it will eat growth from other new streaming entrants. Amazon's Prime Video, like Hulu, hasn't slowed Netflix's momentum, even after years of competing in the market.

The bottom line: Ball argues that Netflix will experience setbacks, like losing library content to Disney and other networks as they pull their titles. But because of its massive user base, it can justify paying enormous amounts of money for content, so it won’t even lose all of its licensed titles in the short-term. Overall, its "licensed content crisis" is overhyped.

Go deeper

Updated 1 hour ago - Politics & Policy

U.S. faces urgent anti-hacker crisis

Illustration: Allie Carl/Axios

The Biden administration is accelerating efforts to fill nearly 600,000 vacant cybersecurity positions in the public and private sectors bogging down efforts to protect digital infrastructure.

Why it matters: Following a deluge of ransomware attacks targeting critical government and corporate infrastructure this year, clogs in the talent pipeline are leaving federal, cash-strapped local governments and Big Business even more susceptible to hacking.

Mike Allen, author of AM
6 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

6 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.