As the release date of Disney+, Disney’s fledgling entrant in the streaming wars, draws closer, the company is starting to get serious friction burns with competing platforms — namely, Netflix and Amazon.
Netflix seems like an obvious competitor. As the entrenched favorite streaming service with the biggest audience, Netflix sets the standard for Disney+ to meet or beat. And Disney’s evidently not going to do its rival any favors. According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Disney is banning Netflix from advertising on any of its TV networks. Insiders claim that this originally stretched to all rival streaming networks, but Disney later reversed that decision for every company except Netflix.
This is not a small thing for Netflix, which has invested hundreds of millions in advertising every year. It warns investors about the possibility of its usual advertising avenues being cut off in its 2018 annual report:
Companies that promote our service may decide that we negatively impact their business or may make business decisions that in turn negatively impact us. For example, if they decide that they want to compete more directly with us, enter a similar business or exclusively support our competitors, we may no longer have access to their marketing channels…. [If] the cost of our existing sources increases, our member levels and marketing expenses may be adversely affected.
A spokesperson for the Disney Company told WSJ it’d reversed a ban on these ads “to reflect the comprehensive business relationships we have with many of these companies.” Ultimately, it likely leads back to Disney’s decision to enter the streaming competition.
Similarly, Disney’s got beef with Amazon over the right to distribute the former’s apps on the latter’s Fire TV devices. According to a different report from the WSJ, Amazon is demanding a significant chunk of ad space on Disney’s apps, which will include Disney+, and Disney’s not willing to offer it. I’m sure the fact that Disney+ will have to compete with Amazon’s Prime Video in the streaming sphere plays into it somehow.
Both companies have leverage: Disney’s apps are very popular and have a metric ton of content, and lack of support for them could hurt Fire TV sales. Amazon’s Fire TV has millions of active subscribers who might not even look twice at Disney+ if it’s not available on their device.
The streaming industry used to be a one-horse race, with that horse being Netflix. Now, with so many jockeying for our attention and money, they might start backstabbing each other to get ahead. I suspect NBC and WarnerMedia might not get as much advertising space on Disney’s channels once they launch Peacock and HBOMax, respectively.
So where does this leave us, the consumers? It definitely effects what kinds of ads we’re going to see — which in turn, effects how many of us will use each service. Competition for our eyes and minds is so fierce, I fully expect formerly cordial relationships between big tech companies to sour over it.