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If you're trying to handicap the eternal race for eyeballs in the entertainment industry, you could do worse than look to the Oscars. While the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences may not do much to reward the action-adventure tentpole films that bring in the biggest box office, they do tend to gravitate to quality. And quality quietly pays off down the road.
In this segment of the MarketFoolery podcast, host Chris Hill and Taylor Muckerman of Motley Fool Canada look at the big picture on the business side, reflecting on how Disney (NYSE:DIS), Netflix (NASDAQ:NFLX), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN) and others did, as well as what the impact of a nice trophy haul could have on services like Hulu and the forthcoming Disney Plus.
A full transcript follows the video.
This video was recorded on Jan. 22, 2019.
Chris Hill: As I mentioned, the Academy Award nominations came out this morning. As fans of movies, we look at this news through the lens of movies that we saw and enjoyed and maybe we're rooting for. As investors, we look at this news through the lens of investing. It shakes out with Disney as a studio getting 16 nominations, Netflix getting 13 nominations, including its first-ever nomination for Best Picture with Roma. Amazon Studios coming in with three. One more bit of good news for Disney and Netflix shareholders.
Taylor Muckerman: Yeah, absolutely. It seems like a one-two punch with these two companies. When you look at Disney's content spending, when you remove sports, Netflix is almost right there with them. It didn't take long for that company to catch up. As you mentioned, Amazon getting a few bids. They're nipping right on the heels of Netflix with that content spending. Ramping it up, and not spending just willy nilly. Apparently, they're making wise decisions on the directors, the cast, the themes of these movies and shows. Very well done for these companies. If you're a shareholder, that's absolutely what you want to see. Without shows and movies for the subscribers to want to watch, what's the business really worth?
Hill: There absolutely is economic upside. We've seen the data year after year that films that get these nominations and win the Academy Awards end up getting a boost at the box office. I should point out that Disney was 16 nominations, Netflix with 13. Netflix actually came in third. Fox Searchlight as a studio came in second with 15. You look at Disney's acquisition of Fox, Fox Searchlight, 15 nominations. 20th Century Fox with five. Really, the Disney properties coming in with, what, 36? Hopefully -- I say this as a fan of movies and as a Disney shareholder -- they're just going to let the Fox Searchlight people keep doing what they're doing, and maybe not meddle too much. That's a studio that has performed very well in terms of awards season.
Muckerman: One thing I saw that interested me a little bit was the projected additions of Hulu subscribers in 2018 are supposed to trump Netflix for the first time ever. Obviously, Disney now owns a sizable stake of Hulu. You can imagine those movies being rolled down maybe strictly to Hulu subscribers. A nice little bump there for the subscription business on top of Disney+, which will be coming out soon.
Hill: It's going to be interesting to see what Disney does with Hulu and if three years from now, we see some sort of merging of the Disney streaming app and Hulu, or if they're able to manage them separately and make them both grow.
Muckerman: Definitely curious about that myself. I have no predictions, but it'll be interesting to see.