Today, both Amazon and Netflix announced that they had reached deals for streaming of ABC and Disney owned content. Netflix secured a short term renewal while Amazon's secured a new licensing deal.Content licensedincludes ABC Studios (Lost, Ugly Betty, Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives”), Disney Channel (Phineas and Ferb, Hannah Montana), and ABC Family (American Teenager and others). The deals also reinforced Netflix’s ‘rerun’ position, as their content license begins 30 days after the conclusion of the final episode of the season. Amazon Prime Instant Video – Amazon’s newer subscription video service included with Amazon Prime shipping, gained access to a smaller share of content with a similar ‘rerun’ model.
Hulu, owned by Disney / ABC, Comcast / NBC Universal and News Corp., continues to be the distribution partner of choice for recent TV content, with its ability to monetize it with both Advertising as well as Hulu Plus subscriptions (still less than the cost of cable but more than a TV antenna). Hulu’s owners recently cancelled their auction – Google wanted more content licenses than the parents were willing to bundle, while Dish Networks’ bids were too low. Therefore, Hulu will continue to be on a short lease to show the networks with can monetize same-season content more than it hurts their revenues from cable re-transmission fees.
Disney’s crown jewels, movie content under Disney and Touchtone imprints, was not included in the deal. This content is currently very limited in digital distribution, with Apple being the partner of choice both through iTunes as well as Disney’s own Digital File Disk included in some DVD and Blu-Ray purchases that allows download to Apple devices.
Headlines aside, these announcements do more to reinforce our positions that Amazon will continue to open their wallet to compete in subscription digital video distribution, while Netflix will recover some lost ground and remain the leader in over the top (OTT) video distribution for the foreseeable future. Hulu, with its unique license for recent content, will remain important.
We’ll continue to jump to headlines, such as those in the Wall Street Journal, reading “Netflix, Amazon Unveil Deals for Disney-ABC Streaming Content”, hoping that Disney movies are included and digital movie distribution is really ready to take off.