Distribution Will Force Innovation

Today I was at a friend’s house. He canceled his cable years ago and has been using YouTube TV ever since. Today he turned on his TV to watch a game and was stunned to learn that ESPN has been removed from YouTube TV. Disney and YouTube couldn’t agree to terms, so ESPN and other Disney-owned channels are out. My friend is evaluating his options.

This is an interesting situation. Channel owners like Disney have always had an interesting relationship with distributors of their content. They created it but needed help distributing it to consumers. Historically they were able to find a compromise because they needed each other. That dynamic has changed, as evidenced by today’s events. Disney, Netflix, Amazon, etc. have created their own distribution platforms and amassed millions of monthly customers. They can now distribute their content directly to the end consumer.

I’ve been watching distribution change in movies, banking, and other fields. This YouTube TV and Disney situation is yet another example of the changing distribution landscape. Technology has removed hurdles, allowing companies to distribute their solutions directly to consumers digitally—no third parties needed. This trend will continue at an accelerated pace. Distribution, along with other factors, will force innovation in many industries that haven’t changed in decades.