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Illustration: Rebecca Zisser/Axios

The spats between TV distributors and networks that grew out of the cable and satellite era are beginning to spill over into the streaming world.

Why it matters: Consumers that cut the cord to avoid paying for expensive TV packages are going to be susceptible to some of the same problems, like programming blackouts, that they had with traditional television.

Driving the news: Roku and Fox reached a distribution agreement late Friday night, the companies said, narrowly avoiding a programming blackout that could have otherwise left TV viewers unable to watch the Super Bowl on their Roku devices.

  • The companies were at odds over Roku's contract to carry Fox content, which expired Jan. 31 without a renewal deal in place.
  • The days-long spat meant that all Fox apps on Roku's platform were be unavailable until a new contract was brokered. Fox had exclusive rights to air the game live this year.
  • The fight escalated quickly and drew concerns from consumers.

What they're saying: Fox used some of its top talent to slam Roku for the debacle, a similar tactic that networks use when negotiating with pay-TV distributors.

  • "Why is @Roku threatening to take away the FOX News app? We don’t know either! Tell Roku hands off your device, and to put you ahead of their business interests." Sean Hannity tweeted Friday.

The big picture: This isn't the first time programmers and streamers have bumped up against one another.

  • Last year, Amazon and Disney nearly failed to strike a distribution agreement to have Disney+ available on Amazon Fire TVs after clashes over advertising terms.
  • In 2015, Amazon stopped selling the Apple TV set-top box and Google Chromecast dongle amid disputes with both companies. (The company announced more than two years later that it would resume sales.)

Be smart: Unlike the traditional TV landscape, there currently aren't any regulations governing these types of negotiations in the streaming world.

  • In 2014, then-FCC Chairman Tom Wheeler proposed rules that could have aided some online video providers in programming negotiations, but the proposal collapsed after it was widely panned.
  • Roku was among the tech companies that didn’t endorse the plan.

Our thought bubble: Over-the-top video providers became popular with consumers in part because they bypassed the headaches like programming blackouts that are common with legacy pay-TV providers. Now tech companies are fighting similar battles to maintain their leverage in a very crowded market.

Go deeper: Streamers go to war over marketing

Go deeper

Trump bump: NYT and WaPo digital subscriptions tripled since 2016

Data: Axios reporting and public filings; Chart: Axios Visuals

The New York Times and The Washington Post have very different strategies for building the subscription news company of the future.

The big picture: Sources tell Axios that the Post is nearing 3 million digital subscribers, a 50% year-over-year growth in subscriptions and more than 3x the number of digital-only subscribers it had in 2016. The New York Times now has more than 6 million digital-only subscribers, nearly 3x its number from 2016.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
45 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Biden's emerging climate orbit

Photo illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios. Photo: Win McNamee/Getty Images

As of Tuesday morning, we know a lot more about President-elect Joe Biden climate personnel orbit, even as picks for agencies like EPA and DOE are outstanding, so here are a few early conclusions.

Why it matters: They're the highest-level names yet announced who will have a role in what Biden is promising will be a far-reaching climate and energy agenda.

Janet Yellen is back

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Hannelore Foerster/Getty Images

A face familiar to Wall Street is back as a central player that this time will need to steer the country out of a deep economic crisis.

Driving the news: President-elect Joe Biden is preparing to nominate former Fed chair Janet Yellen to be Treasury secretary.

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