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2 Takeaways From This Recent Cord-Cutting Survey

By Evan Niu, CFA - Oct 18, 2019 at 6:30AM

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The streaming wars are about to heat up.

Within the next few weeks, the streaming wars will intensify dramatically as Apple (AAPL 0.63%) and Disney (DIS 2.21%) launch two of the most highly anticipated video-streaming services to compete with Netflix (NFLX -0.08%), which reported better-than-expected subscriber gains on Wednesday. Earlier in the week, media consulting firm Amdocs published some findings from a survey of U.S. consumers that have important implications for the industry.

Here are two important takeaways from the survey.

A bowl of popcorn in front of a TV

Image source: Getty Images.

There's plenty of room in the monthly budget

The looming competition has been at times oversimplified, framed as a mutually exclusive competition among service providers. Most people subscribe to numerous services to fulfill all of their media needs, so companies are really just vying for one of several spots in a consumer's monthly budget.

An estimated 27% of U.S. consumers spend over $100 per month on subscription services, according to the survey, suggesting that there's plenty of room for a handful of services. As long as Netflix can remain a core pillar in the mix, it shouldn't have to worry too much about subscriber losses. Nearly all of Netflix's subscriber additions last quarter came from abroad, with the company adding roughly half a million paid memberships in the mature U.S. market.

"The upcoming arrival of services like Disney+, Apple TV+, HBO Max, and Peacock is increased competition, but we are all small compared to linear TV," Netflix confidently wrote in its third-quarter shareholder letter. "While the new competitors have some great titles (especially catalog titles), none have the variety, diversity and quality of new original programming that we are producing around the world."

The survey showed that 59% of respondents are satisfied with their current portfolio of subscriptions -- many of which certainly include Netflix -- and aren't interested in making changes.

The power of bundling

The onslaught of new services is also daunting for consumers. Roughly a third of respondents expressed frustration with password management for all of the subscriptions, with 39% saying they would prefer a bundled platform that allows them to manage the services under a single login.

Bundling has long been a powerful tool for companies to strengthen customer loyalty and retention. Apple has made a significant strategic shift with its Apple TV app, which is now available across a slew of third-party platforms, a cross-platform move that would have been unheard of just a few years ago. Apple has now shifted its focus toward selling third-party subscriptions on the Apple TV app, earning the tech company a cut of that revenue in the process while simplifying management through a single login.

Disney is also going to aggressively bundle Disney+ with Hulu and ESPN+ for $13 per month -- the same price as Netlfix's most popular plan.

Evan Niu, CFA owns shares of Apple, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Apple, Netflix, and Walt Disney. The Motley Fool has the following options: long January 2021 $60 calls on Walt Disney, short October 2019 $125 calls on Walt Disney, short January 2020 $155 calls on Apple, and long January 2020 $150 calls on Apple. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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Stocks Mentioned

Netflix, Inc. Stock Quote
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Apple Inc.
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