Chalk up today as a victory for the Netflix (Nasdaq: NFLX ) bears. Shares of the leading premium video streaming website tumbled on Tuesday after losing exclusivity on a key content deal. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) will now be offering timely Epix movies through its cheaper Prime Instant Video program.
However, the decisively negative news is burying a positive development that's taking place an ocean away.
The Telegraph is reporting that Freesat, the BBC- and ITV-owned U.K. satellite service that provides free access to programming for folks with satellite dishes buying its set-top box, is rolling out a new high-tech box that will provide seamless access to Netflix streaming.
More than a million of Netflix's 30 million customers are in the U.K., and this should help make it easier to grow in a very competitive region where Netflix is trying to get noticed against the more established BSkyB and Amazon-owned LOVEFiLM, which rolled out streaming platforms ahead of its arrival earlier this year.
However, the real takeaway here is that it will now be that much easier to become a cord-cutter in the U.K. than before. Why pay BSkyB a chunky monthly bill when Freesat can be paired up with Netflix -- or any of the other on-demand services accessible through the new set-top box -- for a substantially cheaper approach to televised entertainment?
Piecemeal is the new buffet
The marketplace is changing, and that's bad news for cable and satellite television providers. Even Time Warner's (NYSE: TWX ) HBO is offering its streaming HBO Go service as a standalone offering -- in Scandinavia -- despite the company's many cable properties and its Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC ) spinoff.
Aren't the days numbered for the industry currently collecting a king's ransom from roughly 100 million homes in this country?
Why are you paying for both MSNBC and Fox News? Surely you're probably only watching one or the other, especially this time of year. The same can be said of BET and CMT, or Spike and Bravo, or PBS and ESPN, yet service providers continue to lump a bunch of channels that you'll never watch into a single standard package because they've been able to get away with it for this long.
Apple takes a bite
Earlier this year, it seemed as if it would be Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL ) time to finally step in to revolutionize the TV industry, but that may not be happening anytime soon after all. A full-blown HDTV with piecemeal content purchases and subscriptions probably isn't going to happen in the near term.
The cable channels and service providers have too much money to lose -- your money, that is -- by caving in to what consumers want.
However, you're also seeing regional and technological changes in Scandinavia and the U.K. that make it easier to cherry-pick the programming that matters at acceptable price points. That trend is the future. It's also what's fair. And it happens to be leading to a global marketplace made for Netflix, which is going to take advantage of the situation.
Yes, it's hard to get excited about Netflix these days. The stock has shed more than a fifth of its value since peaking last summer. Then again, how can one not be excited about Netflix after starting to connect the dots?
The potential of the U.K. development clearly isn't enough to beat out the pessimism generated by the cheaper Amazon.com's purchase of the lucrative Epix flicks today. But it may be the event that the market ultimately remembers as the undeniable consumer-friendly trend plays out in the coming years.
Netflix is fashionably early here, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.
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