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Streaming Services: The Quickening

In the universe of streaming content providers, those that are being forced to pay for content in order to compete, are finding themselves hitting price points similar to the very services they originally promised to usurp; cable.

YouTube TV’s big price hike comes as other virtual pay-television service have ratcheted up rates, after an initial land-grab by OTT players to sign up customers who wanted an alternative to cable or satellite TV.
-- Todd Spangler, Variety

Cutting the cord has been a major theme in tech, for a while now. That's not going to change, but the game itself is changing - and in a big way. Netflix spent $12 billion on original content last year, and will supposedly spend $15 billion this year. Netflix basically invented the space, so it's a good bet that they know what they're doing. Remember when they were pretty much just Blockbuster, but you didn't have to go to a store? Well now they're trying to be Disney and they're trying to do it on their own, not through acquisitions. That's pretty bold!

Most of these streamers have pretty thin business models, and I suspect that we're about to see a tremendous amount of consolidation in the space. Netflix is spending billions on original content, but others with cash hordes may choose to buy distribution (e.g. other streamers) instead. The land-grab in the content space appears to be largely over, with the Disney acquisition of Fox Studios. Disney now controls:

Lots of other stuff too, of course, like ESPN. The universe of content creation breaks down into Disney, Comcast-NBCUniversal, National Amusements and WarnerMedia. That's an exclusive club.

The wildcard here, is Apple. This is generally not an acquisitive company - invented here is strong in Silicon Valley and it's strongest of all, at Apple. This is also a company with $245 billion in cash.

The Sony execs, who were behind such shows as “Breaking Bad” and “The Goldbergs,” have lured many big names to work with Apple, including Witherspoon and Aniston, Steven Spielberg, Oprah Winfrey and Damien Chazelle, the director of "La La Land."
-- Alexandra Steigrad and Nicolas Vega, New York Post

I think at the end of the day, none of us are clairvoyant enough to try and predict individual winners and losers in the streaming space. It's just too fluid, with too many variables. One thing that I think I can predict, though, is that the market will place a premium value on the content producers. I see evidence of that in both Netflix and Apple's investment into original content, and that's a space I want to be invested in.

-- Scrib