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Where Does OTT Stand Ahead of the Disney+ Launch?

Where Does OTT Stand Ahead of the Disney+ Launch?

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It’s a big month for streaming. Apple TV+ just launched and Disney+ is coming soon (but not to own on video & DVD). It’s time for an update on the state of the streaming wars. 

In this strange new world, tech companies like Apple are investing in content and media companies like Disney are investing in technology. So how does all this effort stack up? 

In August, the MediaRadar research team reported on the converging forces:

“After Disney announced earlier this year that it will launch its Disney+ streaming service in November, Apple announced that it is launching its own subscription-based video streaming service, Apple TV+. It’s rumored that Apple is currently spending $6 billion on content; $5 billion more than its original plan. In comparison, Disney is projected to spend $23.8 billion on content, Netflix is expected to spend up to $15 billion, and Amazon is on pace to spend $7 billion on video and music content in 2019.” 

Clearly, these numbers indicate that Netflix, Amazon, Disney and Apple are the royalty of over-the-top television (OTT). With the launch of HBO Max in 2020, AT&T’s WarnerMedia may join the exclusive club soon.

But consumers may need some convincing. The top seven streaming platforms will collectively cost $61. Consumers will more realistically pick and choose the platforms they actually want to pay for, leaving companies pitching both price point and content.  

Apple is going for a ‘quality over quantity’ approach, with just a handful of shows available on the platform. Disney+ is touting its massive library with everything from Marvel to The Simpsons (thanks to its recent 20th Century Fox acquisition). 

But all of this has to do with content spend, not ad spend. What does advertising an OTT option in an already crowded space look like? 

Apple and Disney Spend Big Ahead of Streaming Launch

For now, let’s look at the two headline makers: Apple and Disney. 

MediaRadar found that both platforms only started running ads in late August. Apple quickly overtook not only Disney’s ad spend, but the entire streaming space. It topped out ad spend in September, becoming the top spender among all streaming platforms.

To date, Apple TV+ has outspent Disney+ five times over. The platform did launch nearly two weeks ahead of the Disney counterpart, so the difference may be made up this month. 

The two companies differ in strategy, as well. Apple has been promoting its original content rather than the platform. So far, it has focused ad spend around eight shows in particular.

In contrast, Disney is promoting the new streaming platform as a whole, using clips from owned content to pitch the breadth of the platform. While not paid media, Disney posted a 3-hour-plus video on YouTube titled “Basically Everything Coming to Disney+”. 

On top of more traditional advertising, Disney has rolled out packaged deal after packaged deal thanks to its extensive holdings and powerful partnerships. For example: Verizon announced a year of free Disney+ for both new and existing customers, and more impressively Disney announced a $12.99 bundle with Disney+, ESPN and Hulu (both of which are majority-owned and controlled by house mouse). Apple, for its part, is including a year subscription to Apple TV+ with the purchase of any Apple product. 

Apple is almost on the defensive in this new world, playing against as a tech company against media giants like Disney. ““No one says the best movies come from Apple today,” MediaRadar CEO Todd Krizelman told The Los Angeles Times this week. “They have a real deficiency in terms of changing perception that they are a place where you should go to watch your content.”

In a bid to make that case, Apple has spent $20 million advertising its two biggest shows ahead of the launch. 

In contrast, Disney’s robust offerings, combined with constant messaging across Disney properties, may immediately drive Disney+ to the top. “Think of Disney like a giant pinball machine, with content and initiatives pinging between divisions in an effort to drive up the ultimate score,” Gene Del Vecchio, a marketing professor at USC, told The New York Times. 

But all of this is around the launch of new platforms. We’ll see what advertising spend does for the incumbents through 2020. 

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