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Stop watching movies on Netflix, start watching sports on ESPN, says ESPN

"Silly algorithm."

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Turn off your Netflix. Turn on the game.

That's the message from a new ESPN ad, which doesn't identify Netflix by name, but it doesn't have to: Look at the woman in the ad roll her eyes as she rejects the movie choices her "streaming algorithm" provides. "Silly algorithm," she adds, for good measure, as she wraps herself in a Steve Kerr blanket.

Good ad, right?

It's meant to remind you, in case you don't understand how sports work, that you have to see sports live, when they happen. This is also, not coincidentally, the thing that Disney and ESPN executives say, over and over, when you ask them about the sports channel's uncertain future in a cord-cutting/cord-shaving/cord-nevering world.

Netflix isn't the only digital distraction ESPN is attacking in its campaign. Heads up, Facebook! You too, Instagram!

"Spots that follow take a similar approach, pointing out that other fan behaviors such as responding to daily birthday reminders or frequent sharing of food photos via social media can happen anytime and should take a backseat behind being part of the real-time sports conversation," said ESPN.

The thing about the Netflix ad, though — as BTIG analyst Rich Greenfield points out — is that ESPN and Disney have been very happy, up until now, to sell lots of stuff to Netflix.

Other programmers who used to sell lots of stuff to Netflix are now rethinking that stance. Is Disney going to do the same?

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