Media companies band together for Streaming Innovation Alliance

A group of major media companies are banding together to launch another alliance that is focused on promoting the benefits of streaming services to Washington lawmakers and regulators.

This week, the Motion Picture Association (MPA) and several of its members announced the formation of the Streaming Innovation Alliance (SIA), adding to a growing list of organizations rallying around Internet-based video technology and related businesses.

A statement on the website of the SIA says the goal of the group is to advocate for "smart policies that will continue to meet audiences where they are, and propel streaming innovation forward."

Precisely how the group intends to accomplish this wasn't easily discerned from their rather limited website that launched this week, but a spokesperson confirmed by email to StreamTV Insider that the alliance intends to "tell the positive story of the amazing value, diversity, and choice people are finding on innovative new services" and would be committed "to stay on the field for the long haul, beyond any particular regulatory docket or legislative fight."

Participants in the SIA include streaming products owned by Warner Bros. Discovery (Max and Discovery+), Paramount Global (Paramount+), the Walt Disney Company and Comcast's NBCUniversal (Peacock), as well as Netflix and TelevisaUnivision. Fox Corporation is not listed as a member, nor are major video-focused tech companies like Google, Apple, Amazon or Roku, but they could participate in SIA in the future.

Some of those inaugural members of the SIA are also participating in similar alliances and organizations, including the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, which is opposing an effort by some independent broadcast TV owners to push for new regulations that would impose cable and MVPD-style retransmission consent rules on streaming cable replacement services like YouTube TV and Fubo.

A spokesperson for the SIA told financial publication Axios that the group is willing to work with other streaming-focused alliances on efforts of shared interest. At least for the moment, the SIA has not taken a firm position for or against any proposal being considered by lawmakers or regulators, but its decision to onboard two senior advisors with deep government roots strongly suggests that type of advocacy will come pretty soon.

Those advisors include Mignon Clyburn, who worked at the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for more than a decade as a commissioner and who previously served with the South Carolina Public Service Commission, and Rep. Fred Upton, the former chairman of the U.S. House's Committee on Energy and Commerce.

Charles Rivkin, the chairman and CEO of the MPA, said his group "looks forward to working with the SIA and its members to ensure federal and state policy propels this incredible innovation forward – and doesn’t undermine the value and diversity consumers are enjoying today."

The SIA is at least the third streaming-focused advocacy organization to be announced this year. In addition to the Preserve Viewer Choice Coalition, a group of independent streaming content providers announced the formation of a new alliance in June.

Unlike the other two groups, the Independent Streaming Alliance appears to focus more on achieving various business-related initiatives, including finding solutions and best practices for audience measurement and content distribution. Most of its members — including Allen Media Group, Chicken Soup for the Soul, the E. W. Scripps Company, Vevo, Revry and Tastemade — license content to other platforms or operate their own ad-supported streaming services (or, in some cases, they do both).

While the SIA has not advocated for or against any specific proposal at the moment, a webpage associated with the group suggests which way its members are leaning on certain issues — and they conflict with the wants and desires of some media companies that are members of other streaming-focused alliances.

Amid a row of links to think pieces on various policy matters is a commentary from the Hudson Institute that urges federal lawmakers to reject calls for cable-like retransmission consent rules on streaming services. The position directly conflicts with the views of Allen Media and Scripps, who are charter members of the Coalition for Local News, a relatively new advocacy group pushing for those cable-like retransmission consent rules on streaming services.

Statements from Clyburn and Upton also indicate the SIA’s overall goals of promoting the benefits of streaming services may be at odds with some stakeholders who are building up their Internet-based video products while simultaneously trying to preserve their traditional media businesses.

“The rise of innovative, new video streaming services is an American success story we should celebrate and encourage, not smother with obsolete and ill-fitting rules and regulations designed for completely different technology, products and business models,” Upton said in a statement.

“Streaming services have opened up a new era of progress for program diversity that is bringing relevant stories and options to historically underserved communities at a record pace while opening doors for production jobs to people of color that have been shut for decades,” Clyburn affirmed. “Any policy that drags down streaming would turn back the clock on this vital progress as well.”