- Google's video-sharing platform YouTube and streaming video giant Netflix surged to the No. 2 and 3 spots in a ranking of the world's most valuable media brands behind Disney. YouTube's brand value jumped 46% to $37.9 billion, while Netflix's value more than doubled to $21.2 billion, compared with Disney's 40% gain to $45.8 billion this year from 2018, per an announcement that Brand Finance shared with Marketing Dive.
- Digital platforms have five of the top 25 spots as traditional media companies grow more slowly or even lose value. In addition to YouTube and Netflix, the top five digital media brands include Chinese video streaming services Youku (No. 11) and iQiyi (No. 17), and music streaming platform Spotify (No. 20).
- Disney-owned sports channel ESPN is the world's strongest media brand with a Brand Strength Index (BSI) score of 88.9 out of 100 and a brand strength rating of AAA. The strength of the brand was evident with the launch of streaming service ESPN+, which signed up 1 million subscribers in its first six months, per Brand Finance.
Brand Finance's ranking of most valuable media brands shows how over-the-top services are transforming the industry. Digital platforms such as Netflix, YouTube, Alibaba's Youku, Baidu's iQiyi and Spotify are expanding their audiences and driving revenue growth alongside a massive shift in viewing habits. Broadband internet and mobile connectivity have spurred the cord-cutting trend in developed markets like the U.S., while emerging markets such as China for years have skipped the build-out of cable networks and gone straight to mobile.
Traditional media brands are either losing value or seeing slower growth, which highlights the urgency in starting or expanding their own streaming platforms. ABC's brand value fell 41%, while Fox's declined 6% and NBC's slumped 3% amid the growing rivalry with digital platforms, per Brand Finance. As the value of traditional TV networks' brands decline, they will likely continue to devise new ways to attract advertisers.
While Disney can be classified as a traditional media company, it's boosted its value with investments in emerging markets, the acquisition of 21st Century Fox's film and TV assets, a controlling interest in Hulu and plans for Disney+, a streaming service that will start this fall, per Brand Finance. Disney will charge $7 a month for the streaming media service, making it less expensive than WarnerMedia's HBO Now and Netflix. Meanwhile, AT&T's WarnerMedia is planning to launch HBO Max, heightening the rivalry with Netflix.
In response to growing competition, Netflix has invested heavily in original programming, including hits shows like "Stranger Things," "Orange Is the New Black" and "House of Cards." Netflix this month said the third season of "Stranger Things" hit a company record with 40.7 million households watching the show in its first four days. Industry experts speculate that Netflix cannot continue financially without offering ad-supported content. The company hasn't announced a switch to ad-supported model: Almost a quarter of viewers would leave the platform if it did so, according to Hub Research. However, while none of the products appearing in season three of "Stranger Things" were paid placements, the more than 100 products that appear in the latest season resulted in over $15 million in advertising value in the first three days of the show's season three release.
For its part, YouTube already has moved toward an ad-supported business model for its original programming. The company this year confirmed plans to make all of its new original programming available for free, including the first two seasons of "Cobra Kai," TechCrunch reported.