Oct 7, 2019

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.

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Iger brushes off competition as Disney+ nears launch

Disney

With Disney+ less than a month away from its U.S. launch, the company is making the case to consumers and investors that its streaming service will take off.

Driving the news: The company said Tuesday that it brokered a new partnership with Verizon to give unlimited wireless customers free access to Disney+ for a year. It announced an exclusive Marvel podcast partnership with SiriusXM and it debuted the new trailer for its upcoming Star Wars film "Rise of Skywalker."

Go deeperArrowOct 23, 2019

First casualty in the streaming wars

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

Sony is shutting down Playstation Vue — its digital live-television service — next January, the company said in a blog post. It's the first digital live TV package to shutter after a slew of such services launched over the past five years.

Why it matters: Media companies and distribution networks are all trying to find new ways to package up content for streaming, but none of them has a magic formula. Increasingly, their over-the-top services resemble the cable bundles they sought to overtake.

Go deeperArrowOct 30, 2019

Disney's Bob Iger tops The Hollywood Reporter's most powerful list

The Hollywood Reporter placed put Walt Disney Co. chairman and CEO Bob Iger at the top of its list of the entertainment industry's 100 "most powerful execs, makers and stars."

Why he matters, per THR: "Disney+ leads a wave of billion-dollar Netflix competitors that are transforming the entertainment industry and launching a new age of ambition (and anxiety)."

Go deeperArrowOct 16, 2019