Disney will not be running Netflix ads on its entertainment networks moving forward, escalating the competition between the two companies a month before the Mouse House launches its new streaming service.
The Wall Street Journal first reported the news Friday morning.
Netflix ads will still appear on one Disney-owned channel — ESPN — but will no longer run on ABC and Freeform, according to CNBC.
Disney did not immediately respond to TheWrap’s request for comment.
“The direct-to-consumer business has evolved, with many more entrants looking to advertise in traditional television, and across our portfolio of networks,” Disney said in a statement to CNet. “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.”
Disney’s decision comes a month before its new streaming service, Disney+, is set to debut. The $6.99 per month service will feature original series, Disney classics, and major franchises like “Star Wars” and “The Simpsons.”
Netflix, which laps the streaming field with more than 150 million customers globally, will face a formidable opponent in Disney, according to many industry experts. Needham analyst Laura Martin, in a note to clients in August, said “We project [Disney] will win (and Netflix will lose) the U.S. SVOD battle.”
Martin forecasted Disney will eat into Netflix’s 60 million U.S. accounts and reach 24-30 million domestic subscribers by 2024, pointing to Disney’s price, its “strong balance sheet” and library of content as key growth factors.
Still, there is reason to believe the Netflix-Disney rivalry won’t shape up to be a zero-sum game. More than 70% of Netflix subscribers said they see Disney+ as a complimentary service, rather than a replacement, according to a recent survey from Ampere Analysis.
“Of course the absence of Disney content from Netflix, alongside the pending removal of shows such as ‘The Office’ and ‘Friends’ may have a slight impact on subscriber numbers,” Toby Holleran, senior analyst at Ampere, said. “However, we expect Disney+ is more likely to displace smaller SVOD services.”
Jennifer Maas contributed to this report.