The Streaming Wars are upon us, and in November, this entertainment battlefield is going to kick into high gear with the launches of Apple TV+ and Disney+, competing directly with Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and the rest. And while customers ultimately hold the power in deciding which service earns their subscription payments, at least one of the studios, Disney, isn’t going to sit back and do nothing. The Mouse House is going to take action to ensure its streaming service dominates.
According to a new Wall Street Journal report, Disney has decided that none of its entertainment TV networks (with the exception of ESPN) will air any ads for Netflix-related content. This decision is the fallout from an earlier decision where the Mouse House was looking at banning all ads from streaming competitors. That original plan changed after Disney struck deals with the other companies. Well, all the companies, minus Netflix.
“The direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television, and across our portfolio of networks,” said Disney 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.”
So, if you’re watching ABC, Freeform, or whatever other channels Disney owns, don’t expect to see ads for new seasons of your favorite Netflix series or original films. And the only reason that Disney is waiving the rule in the case of ESPN is because Netflix doesn’t offer any live sports and isn’t seen as a direct competitor for the network.
As devious as it may seem, this isn’t some groundbreaking rule. Network TV has always ignored advertisements for other networks. You wouldn’t see an ad for “Seinfeld” and NBC’s must-see lineup over on ABC during the ‘90s, right? So, all that Disney is doing is taking the initiative to stop Netflix from gaining any foothold on its home turf.
Of course, Netflix is just a standalone streaming company and doesn’t have any over-the-air networks to flex back at Disney with. But given that the streaming service has a huge advantage in the number of customers and a years-long headstart on Disney+ means that Netflix is likely going to be just fine.
For now, that is. Mickey Mouse is a powerful dude.