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While Disney+ grabs the D2C limelight, Amazon Prime continues its steady expansion

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Photo of Tim Mulligan
by Tim Mulligan

Disney+ spent last week being the centre of attention in the direct-to-consumer (D2C) space with its Investor Day presentation on December 10th. During the four-hour presentation, Disney rightly made a big thing out of the target-beating growth of Disney+ , which comes at the end of its first year of operations. As of December 2nd Disney+ has 86.8 million global subscribers, 3.2 million subscribers shy of its pre-launch target of 60-90 million subscribers by FY 2024. As result the media major has raised its new subscriber guidance to 230-260 million paid subscribers by FY 2024. Additionally, it has now doubled its content expense budget for Disney+ to $8-9 billion for FY 2024. After betting the proverbial ranch on D2C in 2019, the trauma of managing the impact of the 2020 pandemic on Disney’s theme parks and studio entertainment divisions have underlined the need for Disney to accelerate its digital pivot. 2020 has shown the world that the only resilient consumer offering is either digitally delivered, or literally delivered.

While Disney celebrates, Amazon continues to delivers the streaming competition 

 

While Disney breathes a collective sigh of relief that its D2C bet is exceeding its bold original expectations, Amazon Prime Video continues its relentless expansion with a carriage deal announced on Monday with Comcast’s European pay-TV subsidiary Sky. The deal sees the Amazon Prime video app appearing from Monday December 14th on Sky and Now TV devices across Europe, with the Now TV and Sky Ticket apps also coming to Amazon Fire TV devices. In the UK, Italy and Ireland the Prime Video app will launch on Now TV devices, as well as Sky Ticket devices in Germany on December 14th. The Now TV app will appear on Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs for customers in Italy, Ireland, Austria and Switzerland through early 2021. Sky Ticket will also be rolling out on Fire TV devices and Fire TV Edition smart TVs in Germany in early 2021. In one fell swoop the world’s preeminent e-commerce and delivery service now has the branding and distribution heft of Europe’s largest pay-TV operators, empowering it to reach streaming laggards across the second most valuable D2C market after North America.

What makes the partnership even more surprising is that it is occurring just in time for Amazon’s exclusive English Premier League coverage to begin. Over the festive period, Amazon Prime has the exclusive UK broadcast rights to 20 English Premier League games –traditionally the cornerstone of Sky’s market differentiation. This make the distribution deal fundamentally different from the 2018 Netflix/Sky app distribution deal, as Prime is now poised to compete directly with Sky on the sports front. In addition to the EPL, Amazon is now bidding for English Rugby UK Premiership exclusive coverage. This alongside its existing Golf and Tennis coverage means that Amazon increasingly represents the ad-free streaming future to a UK Sky customer base which is likely to be cutting costs as a hard Brexit looms in a matter of weeks.

While 2020 closes with Disney dazzling investors with its compelling D2C narrative, Amazon is quietly continuing to cement its position as a strong competitor to the title of global default streaming service. The next instalment of the streaming wars is already in post-production…

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