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Disney to Netflix: Drop Dead

As its own streaming service nears launch, Disney-owned ABC, Freeform, and FX are refusing commercials from Netflix.

Marvel's The Defenders


Sarah Shatz/Netflix

Disney is no longer accepting Netflix ads on most of its entertainment networks, the latest in a string of news about the entertainment giant breaking off its relationships with its competitors as the launch of Disney+ draws near.

The Disney-owned ABC, Freeform, and FX are among the networks that will not run commercials from Netflix, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal. While Disney’s statement was typical corporate-speak—”We reevaluated our strategy to reflect the comprehensive business relationships we have with many of these companies”—it was telling nonetheless. Disney believes that Netflix will be in direct competition with Disney+, and giving their competitor publicity simply isn’t worth the ad revenue.

A Disney spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment. A Netflix spokesperson declined to comment.

Although Disney’s ESPN will still accept Netflix advertising, Netflix does not have a major stake in sports programming. Television networks have historically rejected advertisements from direct competitors, though streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime have typically been welcomed. With more companies getting involved in the streaming business, attitudes are beginning to change.

As companies such as WarnerMedia and NBCUniversal, which were once primarily focused on linear television networks, gear up to release their own streaming services next year, it wouldn’t be surprising if they announced similar advertising bans and put Netflix square in the crosshairs.

The Disney/Netflix advertising report also followed yesterday’s reveal that Disney and Amazon are battling over ad space regarding Disney’s apps for its networks on Amazon’s Fire TV. Disney wants to keep a firm grip on all its advertising spaces.

This week’s Disney advertising headlines are part of a larger trend of the company stepping away from anything that could draw viewers away from its own upcoming streaming services. The Disney-owned Hulu will be getting “Helstrom,” “Runaways” Season 3, and a handful of animated Marvel shows, but Disney’s Marvel offerings outside Hulu and Disney+ are nonexistent. If you want to watch Disney shows, Disney wants you to spend time and money on Disney-owned ventures.

The business strategy goes both ways: Netflix unceremoniously axed all of its Marvel Cinematic Universe shows, including “Daredevil” and “Jessica Jones” around the time when Disney+ was beginning to gain traction in the news media.

Disney+ launches on November 12 and will cost $6.99 per month.

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