Commentary

Ad-Supported Digital Media Still Relies On Legacy TV For Major Content

If you can’t beat ‘em, join 'em -- or at least infiltrate them. That seems to be a growing TV mantra.

On Monday, Walt Disney Co said it struck a deal with Twitter to develop live ESPN content for its site -- in addition to creating and sharing in advertising opportunities.

We have seen this before — with NBCUniversal doing similar deals with BuzzFeed and Snap. NBC also invested some $400 million and $500 million, respectively, in such investments.

All this comes with premium content deals in other areas: Take YouTube TV and its aim to focus on making deals with TV network providers for its digital live, linear TV service. Digital media dependence means running long-form content that viewers are comfortable with on the big TV screen.

This isn’t to say that new digital services aren’t trying to get into the content game -- Netflix, Amazon and Hulu are producing movies and TV shows that also compete with traditional players. (Hulu is in a slightly different position because it is owned by NBCU, Fox, Walt Disney and Time Warner.)

What you are not seeing is Google and Facebook working on the same premium content level -- the two largest players controlling the bulk of digital-media ad spending.

That means there is an opportunity for traditional TV network companies to work with ad-supported digital media players -- including other social media players like Twitter.

As the major TV networks head into the upfront, that's a valuable addition in their marketing push to media agency and ad executives. Their TV commercials still offer big value in their owned content -- whether on their channels or elsewhere, internationally, domestically, and on new digital media platforms.

Legacy TV companies still have a sizable hand of content to play. They are joiners.

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