Amazon, Disney clash over TV apps, new streaming service

(Photo courtesy The Walt Disney Company)

When the Walt Disney Company’s new streaming service Disney+ launches next month, it will be available on devices made by Apple, Roku, Sony, Samsung and Microsoft, among others.

But it may be absent for a quarter of the population who use Amazon-branded streaming devices thanks in large part to an ongoing dispute between the company over advertisement inventory.

The Wall Street Journal reports Amazon and Disney are currently arguing over how much advertisement inventory the Seattle-based retailer will control on apps run by the Burbank-based entertainment company.

Though not detailed in the report, the affected apps appear to include those operated by Disney that run so-called “pre-roll” video advertisements that appear before shows and movies. Disney+, the $7 a month service that will comprise of programming from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar and Fox, is not expected to have any advertising, but certain other Disney-operated TV apps do, including ABC Now, FX Now, Disney Channel and ESPN+.

If the two sides cannot come to an agreement over the ad inventory, those apps could be removed from Amazon’s Fire TV app store, the report says. It would also mean Disney+ would likely not come to Amazon Fire TV devices when it launches. Amazon devices were notably absent in press materials about the forthcoming streaming service when it was announced earlier this year.

Amazon is notoriously aggressive when it comes to the services offered through its app stores for TV and tablet devices. There are several streaming sports services that are not offered within the Amazon ecosystem, and Amazon users were left without several Google apps — including the popular video service YouTube — after Google and Amazon began fighting over hardware sales in late 2017. YouTube returned to Amazon devices earlier this year after both sides made up.

Around 29 percent of households use Amazon Fire TV devices, including Fire TV Stick and Fire TV Cube, according to data provided by Strategy Analytics. Over 40 percent of households use Roku devices, while Google and Amazon streaming hardware comprise a little more than 25 percent of the streaming TV market share.

For years, Amazon has been the outlier in the streaming market in that it offered both streaming TV hardware and a streaming TV service, Prime Video (Apple and Roku now have their own streaming video services). But Amazon devices, which run a version of Google’s Android software, are popular with hobbyists and hackers who like to add apps and operating systems not officially sanctioned by Amazon by “sideloading” services through a feature intended for developers.

Disney currently has several Android apps available, and Disney+ is expected to launch on Android next month. If the apps are available on Android but not Amazon, some intrepid users will likely figure out how to install them anyway.

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