TV's Streaming Frenemies Will Keep The Status Quo

Walt Disney announced recently it made a distribution agreement with Amazon Fire TV to carry its new Disney+  service. Does this mean we should revive the trending word “frenemies” -- just one more time?

Not really. Amazon Fire TV needs lots of different TV networks -- just like Roku does -- to sell itself as a provider of premium TV networks. Perhaps Amazon will want all new premium networks, including Apple TV+, NBCU’s Peacock and HBO Max.

(Will there be ad-supported versions for any of these services on Fire TV? That hasn't been completely disclosed.)

This frenemy moniker is not new -- just an extension of a necessary way of life when it comes to TV production divisions and TV/video distribution points.

Some recent examples: Fox-produced “Modern Family” has run on ABC Television Network for 11 seasons. In syndication, highly touted shows like “Wheel of Fortune” and “Jeopardy” -- distributed by CBS Television Distribution and owned by Sony Pictures Television -- run on ABC owned-and-operated stations.



We could go on. Some would say, however, that D2C (direct to consumer) efforts by major media companies have amped up situations -- with Netflix, initially, getting dinged in losing two popular off-network TV comedies. WarnerMedia is taking back “Friends” exclusively for its HBO Max; NBCUniversal will do the same with “The Office” for its Peacock service when it starts next year.

Still, don’t be surprised if future TV shows from WarnerMedia, NBCUniversal, Disney or others find their way onto Netflix. Perhaps those shows won’t carry top high-valued TV content initially. But they’ll be worth something. (“The Office” didn’t start out as a high-rated TV network comedy.)

For a long time, Netflix has made deals with major movie/TV studios for ‘library’ movie product, not for more recent big blockbuster films.

Know this: From the movie/TV studios' point of view, they always need more new customers to sell their content -- all to get the best pricing, all to maximize revenue. Some movie/TV content may not be best to keep in-house -- especially if it doesn’t provide meaningful business improvement.

One might wonder, in this current environment, why CBS doesn’t take back those top-rated syndicated shows it sells to ABC stations for their own stations, or perhaps for a future Sony TV digital platform?

New business calculations regarding how to best monetize content, with future digital premium video services, are still fluid -- or streaming -- to use another word.

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