1. Beef Time In Flixopolis
That’s today’s theme in Flixopolis where every hour seems to bring a new Flix-related beef.
First Amazon dissed Disney by telling them they would not put Disney+ on Fire TV devices unless Disney agreed to a somewhat extortionesque sounding deal whereby Amazon gets to sell a “substantial percentage” of the ad space on Disney apps.
Next, Disney dissed Netflix by telling them they would not be partaking in any of the hundreds of millions of dollars Netflix will be spending to promote their new shows. And don’t let the door hit you on the way out either, Hastings.
This is not totally from out of the blue—Disney doesn’t run ads for CBS and NBC either, but for some reason, streaming services have been getting a free pass.
Well not any more.
And now, the latest beef—it seems that Apple has “disappeared” the Amazon Prime Video app from the Apple App Store and the Apple TV. No one seems to know what’s behind this beef—it could just be a tech error or it could be that Apple is beefing with Amazon…again.
Because if you remember, Amazon Prime on Apple TV is a fairly recent development—a previous beef had kept Prime Video off of Apple TV for years, much to the dismay of the dozen or so people who actually owned an Apple TV.
So to review,
List Of Flixopolis Beefs, October 2019
Players: Amazon and Disney.
Reason: Amazon’s wannabe ad sales tariff on Disney apps
Players: Disney and Netflix
Reason: Disney said “Bye, Felicia” to Netflix promo ads
Players: Apple and Amazon
Reason: Apple “disappeared” Amazon Prime Video app from Apple TV
Why It Matters
It’s all just so petty.
Which invariably works to someone else’s advantage.
Take Roku, for example. They were able to survive a four-way race with Apple, Amazon and Google mostly because they were the “Switzerland of streaming devices”, the one platform where consumers could find whatever app they wanted. (A solid interface and low pricing helped too, but the Switzerland thing was huge given, as noted above, that you couldn’t get Amazon’s popular Prime Video app on an Apple TV. Or YouTube on Fire TV. Or a remote control on Chromecast. And that’s just off the top of my head.)
Mostly though, it matters because this is just the tip of the iceberg and we’re going to be seeing a lot more of this sort of pettiness, and trust me, with the likely exception of the Disney-not-running-ads-for-Netflix piece, it’s going to seem incredibly petty to consumers too, and more “business as usual” and that’s before they figure out that the fees in Flixopolis aren’t any lower than they were in Cablestan, even if the popcorn’s a little fresher.
So there’s that.
On the plus side, the constant drama will make writing these Week In Review columns a lot easier.
But in return we’ll be treated to a spate of “meet the new TV, it’s the same as the old TV” columns written by people who don’t really understand the business.
So there’s that too.
What You Need To Do About It
This is an easy one: if you’re one of the players in Flixopolis, drop the petty beefing. It’s not a good look and it’s only going to drive consumers away and make them less loyal and more skeptical which is a net loss no matter how you look at it.
If you’re a consumer, just keep practicing those eye rolls. Or gifs of eye rolls. Take your pick.
2. CNN Shows Why TV Is Better Than Social
CNN refused to air two ads from Donald Trump’s re-election campaign, citing “false claims.”
Why It Matters
Because this clearly illustrates one of many critical differences between TV and social: TV networks and local stations frequently refuse to air ads they find to be false, misleading or otherwise spam-like, a rule that extends to all sorts of ads, not just political ones.
Social media sites in general, just say “show me the money” and run anything a user uploads so long as it’s the correct file size.
Or to look at it through a different lens: about a month ago, a well-known tech journalist approached me about a story they were doing on privacy and media manipulation. Their working theory was that the new spate of TV viewership data could lead to a Cambridge Analytica type situation with TV for the 2020 elections, with viewers being manipulated by fake ads based on their prior viewing patterns, especially around the various debates and cable news channels.
I told them that while I would not dismiss the idea out of hand entirely, there were two key reasons why it was unlikely.
The first was that TV advertising is far more expensive than digital advertising.
Far, far more expensive, So that while $10,000 could buy you tens if not hundreds of thousands of Facebook dark posts, it only gets you a handful of TV commercials.
The second reason was the one illustrated here: TV networks actually check up on and approve the ads they run. So if someone tried to run a bunch of fake ads designed to rile up specific audiences, the various networks and broadcasters would likely flag them and refuse to air them. Which would shut down the entire very expensive operation.
End of story.
What You Need To Do About It
If you’re a TV network or local broadcaster, you need to keep on doing what you’re doing, vetting ads and making sure nothing shady gets on air.
If you’re an ad-supported OTT platform, you need to follow their lead in order to keep your advantage.
If you’re an ad tech vendor that sells programmatic ads, you need to make sure you have a system in place that allows you to check TV spots before they run and say no to the ones that are false, misleading or otherwise spam.
If you’re Facebook (in particular) and social media (in general) you need to take a page from the TV playbook and learn to “just say no.”