Netflix Awakens a New Bear as Disney, AT&T Threaten Its Dominance

(Bloomberg) -- Netflix Inc. has brought a new bear to market, adding to signs of an increasingly crowded landscape for streaming platforms.

The already high level of competition is expected to tighten as Walt Disney Co. and AT&T Inc. go live with their new streaming services next year, Germany’s DZ Bank AG said in note. The firm joins three other bears on Wall Street with its initiation at a sell rating and $190 price target.

For Netflix, more streaming options increases the risk of larger media players withdrawing attractive content in an effort to entice viewers. While management was able to ink a deal recently to keep "Friends" available for subscribers, the non-exclusive broadcasting rights reportedly may have come with a near to $100 million price tag.

Chief Content Officer Ted Sarandos has veered his focus toward in-house productions to shift dependency, but DZ Bank still sees Netflix at a disadvantage given its already high level of debt and negative free cash flow. This holds true “especially against financially strong technology companies,” the firm said.

Netflix pared its intraday gains Tuesday to end the day down 1.6 percent. The streaming service is up 38 percent this year.

Netflix Awakens a New Bear as Disney, AT&T Threaten Its Dominance

"We would argue that Netflix has been prepping for these days since 2016 and has been moving upstream to sign content creators away from the established TV studios," Michael Nathanson, founding partner of MoffettNathanson LLC, wrote in a note.

The research firm boosted its price target on neutral-rated Netflix to $230 per share from $210, noting that, after numerous large-sized media deals this year, there is now a larger debate about the right direct-to-consumer strategy to embrace.

“2018 will go down as the year in which some of the largest traditional media companies started to show their cards vis-a-vis their over-the-top distribution strategies,” he said.

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