The Streaming Wars: 3 Media Stocks Dominating the Digital Age

Stocks to buy

The streaming industry continues to struggle. The race to develop content and gain market share has left many companies overstretched and unprofitable. At the same time, the need to raise prices has forced consumers to pick and choose which streaming platforms they will keep, jettisoning many subscriptions and leading to a loss of revenue. The unsustainable situation has led to a decline in many media stocks that operate streaming services. Analysts increasingly expect a wave of consolidation to sweep the sector and for the number of players in the space to shrink in coming years. Despite the current upheaval, a few streaming companies emerged as leaders, and their stocks are either performing well or look on the cusp of breaking out. Here are three media stocks dominating the digital age.

Netflix (NFLX)

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Despite facing an onslaught of competition, Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX) continues to reign supreme among media companies in the streaming space. It’s still the king. The total number of subscribers on Netflix worldwide now stands right around 250 million, putting it ahead of all other streaming platforms. The company is also one of the few profitable streaming services. Plus, Netflix has led the industry by being the first to crack down on password sharing and introduce advertisements to its platform.

In recent months, Netflix raised the monthly price of its premium subscription plan in America to $22.99 from $19.99 and forecasted an all-time high profit margin in 2024 of between 22% and 23%. All of this is reflected in NFLX stock, which rebounded strongly last year. In 2023, NFLX stock gained 61%. The share price began to rise once the company bit the bullet and added advertising to its platform, something it had long refused to do. Looking ahead, the stock looks poised for continued growth.

Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD)

Source: Jimmy Tudeschi / Shutterstock.com

There looks to be an opportunity to buy Warner Bros. Discovery’s (NASDAQ:WBD) on the cheap ahead of an expected merger or acquisition. Before the holidays, news broke that Warner Bros. was in active discussions with rival Paramount Global (NASDAQ:PARA) about a potential merger. The combined entity would be an entertainment colossus with assets that include cable channels HBO and Nickelodeon, streaming platforms Max and Paramount+ and film franchises ranging from Batman to Star Trek.

Warner Bros. CEO David Zaslav and Paramount CEO Bob Bakish reportedly met to discuss merging their companies. While the talks have been described as preliminary, they show that Warner Bros. is serious about consolidation to gain size and market share in the quickly evolving media landscape. WBD stock has struggled since its 2022 market debut following the merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery. Down 61% in less than two years, the shares look cheap at current levels and could be a good long-term buy.

Walt Disney (DIS)

Source: Disney

Things can only go up from here at the Magic Kingdom, right? While shares of Walt Disney (NYSE:DIS) continue to be a crushing disappointment, the stock looks to have bottomed at $90 a share, a level it has been languishing at since last summer. The stock hasn’t recovered. But it hasn’t gotten any worse in the last six months either, an encouraging sign at this point. Proxy fights, poor box office returns and negative investor sentiment aside, there might be reason for hope with DIS stock.

That hope can be found in the company’s Disney+ streaming service. While work still needs to be done to lower production costs and scale back all the Star Wars origin stories, streaming remains a bright spot at the House of Mouse. The total number of Disney+ subscribers came in at 150.2 million for the third quarter of 2023 compared to forecasts of 148.15 million. Disney is also benefitting from the introduction of advertisements on the streaming platform and is now increasing subscription fees, all of which should help DIS stock to rise eventually.

On the date of publication, Joel Baglole did not hold (either directly or indirectly) any positions in the securities mentioned in this article. The opinions expressed in this article are those of the writer, subject to the InvestorPlace.com Publishing Guidelines.

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