3 Streaming Stocks That Are Challenging Netflix

With 220 million paying subscribers, Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) is still the streamer to beat, but after reporting two consecutive quarters of subscriber losses, its stock price has significantly underperformed the competition.

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If you’re interested in buying streaming stocks but want to learn about alternatives to Netflix, you’re in the right place. Three Motley Fool contributors explain why Warner Bros. Discovery (NASDAQ: WBD), Paramount Global (NASDAQ: PARA) (NASDAQ: PARA.A), and Walt Disney (NYSE: DIS) could be in a great position to benefit from the streaming battle unfolding right now.

This newly merged company has a massive content library

Jennifer Saibil (Warner Bros. Discovery): The streaming wars have intensified, and this spinoff from AT&T is well positioned to capture market share and grow its business.

So far, it’s not off to a great start. It was born with a load of debt after the April spinoff that merged Warner Bros. and Discovery, and as inflation has hit Americans’ pockets, it posted a slight year-over-year revenue decrease in the second quarter. The net loss was $3.4 million. It will continue to absorb restructuring costs in the near future as it manages the financials of a large merger.

But there are many reasons to believe it has a bright future, most obviously in the form of its huge media library. Warner Bros. Discovery operates a wide range of media networks, most of which have been up and running for decades. Some examples are HBO, CNN, and the Discovery Channel, which are all still important assets.

It also owns Warner Bros. Studios, which produces franchises including the Harry Potter films and the DC Comics brand. The vast content library already gives the company an edge when competing against Netflix or any other streaming company, and brings it straight into streaming’s major leagues.

Streaming accounts for only a fairly small portion of the total business. Direct-to-consumer revenue was $2.2 billion in the 2022 second quarter, or slightly less than a quarter of the company’s total revenue of $9.8 billion. That’s a benefit, since Warner Bros. Discovery has other resources and revenue generators instead of putting all of its eggs in one basket.

But with 92 million customers for all of its streaming services, it offers strong competition for Netflix, even if it won’t take the mantle of top streaming company in the near future. And while the company’s total revenue decreased, streaming revenue increased 4% year over year.

Warner Bros. Discovery shareholders might be in for a wild ride as the company charts a path forward, but the potential is there. And with shares trading at a cheap price/earnings-to-growth ratio of 1.21, and dirt cheap price-to-sales ratio of only 0.77, this stock has a lot to offer investors.

The complete entertainment package

John Ballard (Paramount Global): Netflix has attributed its recent losses in subscribers to account sharing, macroeconomic factors, and competition. TV networks were slow to migrate over to digital platforms, which gave Netflix a free pass to win subscribers. That has all changed over the last few years.

Paramount Global (formerly ViacomCBS) has posted impressive growth this year. The company rebranded its CBS All Access streaming service as Paramount+, and it’s been growing rapidly. Global streaming subscribers, including Pluto TV, nearly doubled to 56 million in 2021 and has continued that streak through the first half of 2022.

The combination of news, live sports, and entertainment in one package appears to be a winning ticket in the streaming market right now. Paramount+ added another 4.9 million subscribers in the second quarter. It is clearly taking share away from Netflix, which has reported two consecutive quarters of subscriber losses.

More choice is clearly playing a factor in limiting Netflix’s growth right now. It’s not over for the company, however. Netflix still has the most subscribers, if you exclude Disney’s Hulu and ESPN+ subscribers. But it’s going to need to make some adjustments to keep up with competing media companies, and that’s easier said than done.

Paramount is executing a successful strategy of leveraging entertainment properties across theatrical releases, TV media, and streaming to grow its audience. The stock trades at a forward price-to-earnings (P/E) ratio of 10.6, providing investors more value than Netflix’s forward P/E of 23.7. Investors are getting a lot more growth for less than half the price.

Disney is more than challenging Netflix

Parkev Tatevosian (Disney): While Netflix undeniably deserves credit for pioneering the streaming-content industry, The Walt Disney Company is quickly catching up. The House of Mouse exploded on the scene in November 2019 when it launched its flagship service, Disney+. That’s one of its three streaming services, with the others being Hulu and ESPN+. Altogether, Disney’s bundle of three services had 221 million streaming subscribers as of July 2, which slightly eclipsed Netflix’s 220 million and change.

Management updated its subscriber target, aiming for 230 million at the midpoint by 2024. Unlike Netflix, which started from scratch, Disney had a robust library of content it could shift to its streaming platforms.

It is home to popular properties like Star Wars, Marvel, Pixar, Mickey Mouse and friends, and more. A film or series based on any of the aforementioned group is more likely to attract viewers because of their history.

In its most recent quarter, which ended on July 2, Disney’s streaming segment generated $5 billion in revenue, a 19% increase from the prior year. That’s a faster growth rate than Netflix, which expanded revenue by 8.6% in its most recent quarter. Still, Netflix earned an operating income of $1.6 billion, while Disney lost $1 billion in its streaming segment.

Netflix remains the undisputed leader in the streaming industry when measured by the crucial metrics of revenue and subscribers. But as highlighted above, Disney’s three services surpassed the pioneer in overall subscribers. Investors who want to capitalize on this secular trend could do well by adding Disney’s stock to their portfolios.

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Jennifer Saibil has positions in Walt Disney. John Ballard has positions in Netflix. Parkev Tatevosian has positions in Walt Disney and has the following options: long January 2024 $105 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has positions in and recommends Netflix and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool recommends Warner Bros. Discovery, Inc. and recommends the following options: long January 2024 $145 calls on Walt Disney and short January 2024 $155 calls on Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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