Netflix is awesome. Instead of driving to your local video store and hoping your film of choice is in stock, you can sit on your couch, press a button, and start watching one of thousands of movies in an instant. It’s fast, it’s convenient, and if you don’t like what you’re watching, you don’t have to watch it.
Netflix and services like it are slowly but surely replacing cable. While there are billions of dollars invested in getting you to subscribe for $50 a month to watch one channel you like and 60 you don’t, more people are cutting the cord and only subscribing to streaming services. When you can get the content you want and avoid paying extra for the stuff you don’t want, what’s the point of subscribing to cable in the first place?
Best of all, you can invest in Netflix and other streaming-related stocks. More people are flocking to these internet-only networks, and these stocks are seeing nice increases due to their involvement in the field. But should you invest in streaming video, and where should you start?
Streaming movie and TV services like Netflix are the most widely used OTT channels.
Around 93.8 million people subscribe to Netflix ($NFLX), watching the service’s original programming (Stranger Things, House of Cards) and licensed content from other studios. Amazon’s Prime Instant Video service ($AMZN) directly competes with Netflix using their own exclusive content (Bosch, Transparent) and licensed content. HBO ($TWX) got into the streaming game in the last few years with their HBO Now app, letting anyone watch the service’s exclusive shows and movies without subscribing through a cable provider.
Streaming-only, cable-like services exist, letting users ditch their cable service and watch TV anywhere.
Sony’s Playstation Vue service is meant to replace traditional cable service, letting viewers watch local channels and popular cable channels over the internet for a monthly fee. Sling, Dish Network’s OTT cable service ($DISH), lets users do the same. AT&T ($ATT) even launched DirecTV Now, a similar service, shortly after the company finalized their purchase of DirecTV.
While Hulu doesn’t currently have a cable-like service yet (they’re set to launch one in 2017), the popular streaming network lets paid subscribers watch shows from most channels the day after they air. Hulu, however, isn’t owned by a single company. Instead, it’s a joint venture between NBCUniversal ($CMCSA), Fox Entertainment Group ($FOX), Disney-ABC Television ($DIS), and Turner Broadcasting System ($TWX).
Sports organizations, anime companies, and even TMZ have their own streaming channels.
A few years ago, the WWE ($WWE) made the genius decision to set up a subscription service, allowing customers to pay a recurring $9.99 a month for all-you-can-watch wrestling instead of maybe shelling out $49.99 every so often for a pay-per-view event. They now have over a million subscribers.
WWE isn’t the only one to set up their own subscription service. Crunchyroll is a Japanese animation-focused video streaming service (partially owned by AT&T) that lets subscribers pay a monthly fee to watch as much anime as they want from their TVs, computers, and phones. The service competes with several other anime streaming service, including the privately owned FunimationNow and Amazon’s own Anime Strike.
If there is an interest or hobby, there is a streaming video service for it. Whether it’s religion, celebrity gossip, or cooking, users with streaming boxes (Roku, Apple TV), phones, or computers can watch either ad-supported or premium content on whatever they want.
Should you invest in streaming video companies? Netflix is performing particularly well these days, as is Amazon (though they do more than just streaming). If you feel that streaming media companies will one day surpass cable providers and movie theaters as the only way to consume media, you might want to do your research before you invest. If you think the “old school” way of doing things is here to stay, you might want to invest your money elsewhere.