ESPN Takes Jab at Netflix in New Ad (Video)

New commercial spot scoffs at streaming service for its ‘silly algorithm’

Last Updated: May 10, 2016 @ 10:39 AM

ESPN fans are accustomed to tuning into its networks to watch people take shots — but maybe not quite like this.

A new spot for the sports leviathan takes Netflix to task, dismissing a fictional streaming-movie service like it for a “silly algorithm” that can’t compete with the attraction of live sports.

“So your streaming algorithm thinks you’ll like this film about a diamond heist. But unlike you, it didn’t just think, ‘Duh, the Warriors game is on,'” according to the voiceover of a woman sitting on her couch flipping through options on fictional streaming service “Moviez.”

It kicks off with the slogan: “Movies can wait, because movies aren’t real.”

The ad, which has been running on ESPN’s networks since Thursday, is part of a new campaign “about the immediacy of live sports,” the company said. Other spots are set to depict behaviors like responding to daily birthday reminders or sharing food photos online, which ESPN argues “should take a backseat behind being part of the real-time sports conversation.”

Netflix has repeatedly said it isn’t interested in dabbling in live sports, which carry some of the most expensive licensing costs in television programming.

And live sports programming is a constant refrain sung by executives at networks like ESPN and owner Disney to bat away worries about cord-cutting, wherein subscribers forsake big pay-TV packages for online alternatives. Networks like ESPN beat the drum that the live nature of sports makes them more resilient to cord-cutting than any other kinds of programming.

But Disney more broadly has been a major Netflix partner. This year kicked off a deal between the two companies that lets Netflix stream its movies earlier than any television network, in exchange for payments to Disney worth a reported $900 million.

Netflix didn’t respond to a message seeking comment.

Watch the video below.