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Investor’s column: In the age of streaming services, what is the future of television?

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Netflix has some new releases planned for 2019, here's what to expect.
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Netflix has some new releases planned for 2019, here's what to expect.

The battle is still raging, but the winners and losers have been emerging for years.

Because of the minimal cost of delivery of original TV programming with the internet and the promise of the upcoming ability to receive high-speed internet and TV in your home from wireless 5G, the stranglehold on consumers by the traditional cable companies has been lessening for years.

As a matter of fact, according to Bobby Chernev, in his recent article with stats from Statista and Variety, he stated that in 2018, more than 33 million people in the U.S. canceled their pay TV subscriptions at some point.

Even more telling from Chernev was his stat that 60 percent of adults in America had someone in their household possess a Netflix subscription.

Most people view Netflix as the clear giant in the new streaming landscape. But to declare Netflix the sole winner would not be accurate, even with its incredible rise to power.

We have witnessed some of the most incredible events live on TV, such as when we watched Tiger Woods win the Masters Tournament on April 14 on CBS, his first major title since 2008. That moment is the reason why live TV will never be replaced.

We also have experienced some of the most-watched TV moments recently from shows that are streaming, including “The Americans” and “This Is Us.”

Danny Wood.jpg
Danny Wood is an independent financial advisor and owner of SeaCoast Financial Partners in Bradenton.

The consumer is now the live laboratory test case because every choice of TV show and sports event is potentially tracked by our service providers. They know better about our habits than we do. Data analytics is where our media companies are learning where the consumer is willing to pay more for programming.

The biggest news of the past month came on April 11 when Disney announced Disney Plus at a price of $6.99 per month and a launch date of Nov. 19. It also made known its interest in becoming the sole owner of Hulu.

Comcast owns 30 percent and AT&T recently sold its share of 9.5 percent to Disney. Disney’s stock price has increased nearly 17 percent between April 11 and the end of the month. (The new “Avengers” movie also was released in April).

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention ESPN Plus. Disney plans to offer Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus as a bundle. The field has become crowded with Apple recently announcing its plans for a streaming service as well.

The results have painted a different future from our past 30-plus years with cable TV. The predictions are that live TV bundles will only consist of sports and news, while streaming services handle TV shows and movies.

The option of 200-plus channel packages will be there, but at that same high price. Most live TV streaming services have raised their prices to around $50 this spring to be profitable, and those packages are skinny with only 25-50 channels.

So, where are the benefits?

Cord cutting was originally about saving around $100 per month on your cable bill. Now it has become apparent that most people want to stream their shows, want those extra channels and want all the live TV they can watch and DVR.

Investors looking for best-in-class media companies likely will be best served with companies that own their content and delivery system. The companies to be concerned with as an investor are the content producers that can’t directly release their own shows.

As they say, we should just pop some popcorn and enjoy the show.

Danny Wood is an independent financial advisor and owner of SeaCoast Financial Partners in Bradenton. To learn more visit MySeaCoastfinancial.com.

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