The move is a sign of the increasingly competitive times, as the media and tech sectors are engaged in a high-stakes battle for streaming supremacy. Netflix spent nearly $2 billion last year on advertising and, given its $15 billion annual spending on content, will be continuing to promote its wares aggressively. Technology writ large is a major category for the TV business, helping keep traditional networks’ $75 billion annual ad haul intact despite headwinds from declining ratings to digital rivals of various kinds.
Disney is launching its own direct-to-consumer service, Disney+, on November 12. Apple will debut its subscription offering, Apple TV+, on November 1. WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal are readying major streaming outlets for launch next spring. In advance of launching Disney+, the parent company has begun pulling back content it had been licensing out to Netflix and other platforms. The first streaming window of Toy Story 4, Captain Marvel and other recent theatrical releases will be on Disney+ instead of Netflix.
Broadcast networks have been awash in streaming ads lately, as Fox’s broadcast of the Emmys last month vividly illustrated. While the overall number of scripted originals keeps climbing, the growth is being powered by streaming, with linear networks holding steady with their output. ABC has served as a launch pad for many streaming campaigns. Netflix’s first ad for Martin Scorsese’s The Irishman aired during this year’s Oscar telecast.
“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.”
In the tech sector, Apple and Amazon have also been tussling over competitive streaming initiatives. The Amazon Prime Video app disappeared from Apple’s App Store, though that appears to be a technical glitch and not a strategic move, according to numerous reports Friday afternoon.
The friction over how streaming services are advertised on traditional TV recalls the era of cable programming rising to prominence a generation ago. There was a time when it was shocking to see ads for HBO’s The Sopranos, for example, on broadcast networks, but today such placements are commonplace. Tech firms have become a major category in the $75 billion TV ad business, and Netflix has been a heavy spender on live events like the Super Bowl and ABC’s telecasts of the Academy Awards.
Disney had initially looked to ban all competitive ads, but then reversed course and agreed to accept ads for Apple TV+ and Amazon shows, but kept Netlfix on the no-fly list.
“The direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television, and across our portfolio of networks,” a Disney spokesperson said in a statement. “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.”
A Netflix rep declined to comment when contacted by Deadline.
The Wall Street Journal first reported on the Disney ban.