Big Digital Media Players Operate as 'Frenemies'

Traditional TV-based media companies may be handling the "frenemy" thing better than new digital media players.

Google and Amazon are now at war over the "reciprocity" of services and devices sold on each other’s platform.

Google is pulling its YouTube video service on Amazon Fire TV platform. That's because of Amazon’s refusal to sell some Google products that compete with Amazon gadgets.

This includes Google’s Chromecast set-top-box TV streaming device (a competitor to Amazon Fire TV) and the Google internet-connected speaker called Home (which competes with Amazon’s market-leading Echo).

TV has similar issues when it comes to competing products -- but with seemingly less combativeness, even considering rough retransmission/carriage deals.

For one, Comcast Corp. is still a major U.S. cable TV operator. TV networks like NBC and its cable networks -- USA, MSNBC and Bravo -- compete everywhere. On its pay TV cable systems, Comcast also carries NBC competitors -- such as ABC, CBS and Fox, as well as many of their cable networks.



Comcast may be an exception when it comes to TV content and distribution -- although AT&T with its possible purchase of Time Warner looks to join this select club.

Long before the Google dust-up, TV networks and their associated TV production companies sold TV programs to competitors — although cross-selling occurs much less frequently than in the past. Two examples are Fox’s “Modern Family” runs on ABC; Fox’s “This Is Us” airs on NBC.

In addition, big TV-media companies sell their off-network rerun content  -- in TV station syndication and in cable -- to competitors.

And when it comes to new digital companies, TV networks sell programming/theatrical movies to the Netflix, Amazon and others  -- as well as competing with them when it comes to grabbing TV viewers on any given night.

Off air? In terms of Comcast’s Universal Studios theme parks, that division already licenses a number of TV and movie-based attractions from its main competitors: Viacom (Nickelodeon), Fox ("The Simpsons"), Walt Disney (Marvel’s Spider-Man and Incredible Hulk), Discovery Communications (Animal Planet), and AMC Networks ("The Walking Dead") to name a few.

Looking at the bigger picture, can new digital media companies learn something here? Or are there more combative days to come?

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