This year threw a lot of curveballs at the television entertainment industry. Covid-19 forced companies to experiment left and right as consumer acceptance of streaming continued to take effect and two major streaming players made their debut. In the meantime, a wave of executive departures weighed on entertainment institutions, causing major business upheavals and shifts that will continue to have an impact in the coming year.
As part of Adweek’s coverage of the year in review, we took a look at some of the biggest moments in the streaming industry in 2020. There were so many momentous moments that HBO Max and Peacock debuts weren’t even on our list.
Randy Freer is leaving Hulu
Freer announced in January that he would be stepping down to continue Hulu’s development and integration with Disney’s broader streaming activities. After Freer left, the ad sales team was placed under the authority of Disney ad sales manager Rita Ferro. Ad sales manager Peter Naylor joined Snapchat shortly thereafter. Kelly Campbell was also named president after Freer’s departure and put a marketer in the front seat of the company while Hulu continued to advance its live TV product. The departure predicted just some of the ways Hulu would continue to change under the Disney umbrella: Hulu is now heavily promoted as part of the Disney + package, which includes Hulu, and the service is getting new programming from Disney-owned FX and invest in reality.
Bob Iger resigns as CEO of Disney
Iger’s exit from the top of Disney in February and Bob Chapek’s elevation to the corner office were just months after Disney + ‘s early success and rocked the Mouse House weeks before the Covid-19 pandemic broke out. Since then, Chapek has stepped on the gas with streaming and steered the rest of the business through the pandemic. The move is also widely seen as the impetus for Disney streaming boss Kevin Mayer’s unfortunate exit to TikTok, which paved the way for an increasingly rational approach at Disney. It was also a fortuitous move for Iger, who is now more focused on content, just like Disney poured more money into programming to make Disney + a must-have streaming service.
Fox Corp. buys Tubi
Fox Corp.’s acquisition of the free ad-financed streamer Tubi March wasn’t the only AVOD acquisition in 2020, but it was one of the most momentous. With Tubi, Fox, who eased its financial burden through a monster sale to Disney, was able to significantly expand its presence with direct consumers and help the broadcaster attract a younger audience that eschewed linear television. The deal also resulted in Tubi getting a boost too: the streamer was injected with Fox programming like The Masked Singer, and the streamer’s inventory was included in all preliminary discussions with Fox Corp. involved with advertisers.
Summer Olympic Games in Tokyo postponed to 2021
The postponement of the Olympics in late March dealt a blow to athletes and competitors and came as a big surprise to NBCUniversal, which had viewed the Games as a marketing tool for the upcoming streaming service Peacock. With the games absent (and the ad dollars that come with them), NBCUniversal immediately shifted the marketing of its young streamer to focus on the free prize, and has put in some more aggressive marketing moves for the coming year that NBCUniversal will do, both of which popular comedy The Office as well as hopefully the upcoming games, which have now been postponed for 2021 to raise the profile of streamers nationally.