Netflix has a dominant position in the streaming wars but, while analysts believe the steadily increasing number of well-funded competing services will take a bite out of the company’s advantage, most do not expect Netflix will lose many subscribers.
“Netflix is likely to see some incremental churn from new competition – but it should be modest. Only 5% of our survey pool said they are likely to cancel the service for Disney+,” Bank of America analyst Nat Schindler wrote in a note to investors on Tuesday. Bank of America has a buy rating on Netflix stock, expecting it to climb to $426.
Disney is widely considered to be Netflix’ biggest new competitor. With the launch of Disney+ on Tuesday, the service will offer an extensive library of both TV shows and films that range from classics to the latest blockbusters in the Star Wars and Marvel franchises. And, beyond Apple’s recently-launched Apple TV+, Netflix will soon face competition for its users from AT&T’s HBO Max and Comcast’s Peacock.
Needham analyst Laura Martin is one of a handful of Netflix analysts who project notable subscribers losses next year.
“We project NFLX will lose 10mm US subs during 2020 unless it offers a service priced below its core $13/month service,” Martin wrote in a note on Nov. 1.
But most Netflix analysts are unfazed.
“We continue to see Netflix as a staple in TV streaming and we think Netflix’s 4Q subscriber guidance was reasonably conservative,” Schindler said.
Here’s what major Wall Street analysts have been saying in the past month about Netflix’ risks and competitive prospects.
Pivotal Research’s Jeffrey Wlodarczak – Buy, $400
“We don’t think it’s hyperbole to dub the current environment “Streaming Wars” as the launch of DTC (direct to consumer) platforms Disney+, AppleTV+, HBO-Max, Peacock among others will likely drive costs for most of today’s Pay-TV media players materially higher at least for the next 18-24 months, while at the same time driving an acceleration in subscriber losses in their core “cash-cow” PayTV business. … We also like NFLX stock as we believe NFLX service will remain a must have for most consumers.”
Needham’s Laura Martin – Hold, no price target
“We attended the HBOMax deep dive this week that AT&T (T) hosted on the Warner Bros studio lot. Several things we learned from T about HBOMax are bad for NFLX (our view) … NFLX’s price point is too high given the competitive streaming landscape … We project NFLX will lose 10mm US subs during 2020 unless it offers a service priced below its core $13/month service.”
Evercore ISI’s Vijay Jayant – In line, $300
“Competition unsurprisingly another theme … we continue to expect competition will have a bigger impact on Netflix’s content costs than on subscriber or pricing growth.”
Raymond James’ Justin Patterson – Strong buy, $415
“Given subdued sentiment, we believe shares recover in November as investors get more comfortable with competition … “Streaming wars” are overblown. Our survey data consistently show D2C services that consumers use multiple services (next update in 4Q). Following the early November launches of AppleTV+ and Disney+, we expect to see data supporting our view point.”
Morgan Stanley’s Benjamin Swinburne – Overweight, $400
“The market’s view of Netflix has not been this cautious for some time … The risk is that Netflix lacks the content “franchises” to prevent consumers from hopping in and out of the service, keeping churn more elevated .. Proven success in the US and initial int’l markets provides a roadmap to success in emerging markets, and scale should allow NFLX to leverage content investments and drive margins.”
Cowen’s John Blackledge – Outperform, $435
“Our latest US survey data suggests NFLX maintains its lead in the living room, particularly among younger demos … Our view is that Disney + is not a substitute for Netflix’s breadth/depth of content, and we also believe Video is not a zero sum game, with several winners poised to benefit from burgeoning WW streaming trends even as NFLX remains years ahead of competitors.”
– CNBC’s Michael Bloom contributed to this report.