The streaming wars are heating up, as Disney has announced that it will no longer accept ads from Netflix on any of its entertainment networks– ABC, Freeform, the Disney Channel, National Geographic, and all related sub-channel. FX, which it acquired when it bought 21st Century Fox, was already not accepting ads from Netflix. The one Disney-owned network that will continue to accept Netflix ads is ESPN, as Netflix doesn’t offer any live sports programming and isn’t seen as a direct competitor.
In a statement, a representative laid out (via The Wall Street Journal):
“The direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television and across our portfolio of networks. While the initial decision was strictly advertising-based, we reevaluated our strategy to reflect the comprehensive business relationships we have with many of these companies, as direct-to-consumer is one element.”
Most networks don’t advertise for other, unrelated networks already, but they had no issues accepting ads from Netflix because it was viewed as something more akin to HBO, a premium service that was not direct competition. But as every company under the sun launches its own streaming service, they are positioning themselves as competition to Netflix. Disney is just the first one to take action.
Of course, Disney is set to launch it’s highly publicized Disney+ service next month. But after its acquisition of 21st Century Fox, it also became the majority owner of Hulu. Comcast, who owned one third, sold its share to Disney, making Disney the sole owner of that streaming service as well. (It will use Hulu to release material that is not family-friendly enough for Disney+, such as the ‘High Fidelity’ series starring Zoë Kravitz, which was shifted over when Disney decided it was a little too mature for Disney+.)
Netflix spent $1.8 billion on advertising in 2018 and is expected to spend even more by the end of 2019. Among the events on which it advertises are the Super Bowl and the Academy Awards, the latter of which airs on ABC, so… guess that’s over with. The Super Bowl seems to air on a different network each year. What happens when it airs on ABC or FOX?
Check back for updates on the streaming wars as they escalate!