Stories

Streamers go to war over marketing

Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The battle among streaming companies is getting competitive, as rivals block competitors from marketing on their TV channels or distributing content on their apps.

Why it matters: TV networks, hardware companies and telecom giants control access to some of the biggest audiences for new products, but they want to use that reach to benefit their own streaming offerings and stymie the competition.

Driving the news: Disney is banning Netflix from advertising across its TV networks, sources tell the Wall Street Journal.

  • Although the move looks like a symbolic nastygram to a rival, Disney could be foregoing significant money.
  • Streamers collectively spend billions of dollars marketing their services across all sorts of media, including digital, television, podcasts and billboards. Netflix alone spent nearly $2 billion on advertising last year.

Netflix has been involved in several of these disputes, as the streaming giant is considered the incumbent to beat.

  • In May, Netflix CEO Reed Hastings confirmed that the company would not be part of Apple's plans to sell subscriptions to other streaming services through Apple TV.

Amazon and Disney are also at odds. On Thursday, the Journal reported that Amazon's Fire TV has not yet struck a deal to carry Disney's streaming service Disney+ because Amazon "is pushing for the right to sell a substantial percentage of the ad space on Disney apps."

  • Yes, but: Tensions between streaming device makers and programmers are longstanding. Amazon stopped selling the Apple TV set-top box and Google Chromecast dongle in 2017 for a little while amid disputes with both giants. Amazon also pulled YouTube from its touchscreen device for some time that year.

The big picture: The streaming wars have also caused competitors to rethink their board structures. Last month, Disney CEO Bob Iger resigned from Apple's board, presumably because Disney plans to launch a rival video service.

  • In April, Facebook said Hastings would resign from its board. Reports suggested that his departure was in part because Facebook was beginning to build its own video business that could in some ways rival Netflix.