As technology and the world change, companies that were once innovative now sit as cautionary tales while others that once seemed to be able to rule the market indefinitely now barely cling to existence.
That can happen for a lot of reasons, but some companies stand the test of time. Two major players in the entertainment space, Walt Disney (DIS -2.16%) and Comcast (CMCSA -2.39%), qualify. Both have the intellectual property (IP) needed to survive any shift in how people consume content.
The case for Disney
It wasn't so long ago that Walt Disney was a sad company coasting off its former glory. Yes, it owned some impressive assets, but it wasn't building on its base of classic animation and children's characters.
That began to change when the company spent $7.4 billion in 2006 to buy Pixar. With that single deal, the company took on an array of popular characters that supplemented Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, and the rest of its original characters.
The buying spree continued with the Mouse House adding Marvel in 2009 and Lucasfilm in 2012. More recently, it continued its IP acquisition splurge with its still-not-completed deal to buy certain Twenty-First Century Fox assets. That deal will give it even more IP as well as return some Marvel characters, including the X-Men, to the fold.
By owning characters people care about Disney can deliver content the market wants no matter what form people consume it in. That's why the company may suffer at times during market shifts, such as what's happening now with cord cutting, but ultimately it has the IP to bring people to whatever platform it delivers on.
An argument for Comcast
Comcast isn't Disney, but it has strong IP paired with impressive delivery channels. It can take a property like Jurassic Park and bring it back to life on the big screen while leveraging it for merchandise, theme park rides, and more.
Comcast also has its own array of children's characters ranging from Minions/Despicable Me, to Secret Life of Pets, Shrek, and even Dora the Explorer. Those join movie franchises including Jurassic Park, Fast & the Furious, Kung Fu Panda, 50 Shades of Grey and more. The company also owns NBC and has managed to take its Tonight Show franchise and turn it into a ride at its Universal Studios Florida theme park.
While it may not have all the sure-fire megafranchises that Disney owns, Comcast still has enough. It can use its powerful library of characters to break into new modes of distribution and make sure it keeps its hold on consumers.
Content is key
While Disney has its fans as a brand, the people who love it are expressing affection to its characters. Nobody says they are a Comcast fan, but they may be diehard lovers of Minions or devotees of the Fast & Furious crew. Good stories work no matter the medium. Owning a wide array of appealing IP keeps these companies viable no matter how consumer consumption of entertainment changes.
We may all eventually pay for the screening of new 3D interactive movies beamed straight to our brains. If there's a Star Wars movie or a Jurassic Park sequel offered that way, you can bet fans will follow. That makes these two companies brands to buy and hold, because their long-term future is cemented due to their IP.