What goes up must — keep going up? That’s what investors seem to think about Netflix, even after it unveiled a “mutually beneficial interconnection agreement” with Comcast widely believed to include payments to guarantee that its broadband customers receive “a high-quality Netflix video experience for years to come”. Share prices for the market’s biggest gainer in 2013, with stock values +312%, are up another 21.4% so far in 2014 — and touched yet another new high today at $449.69. The price retreated a little to close at $447, +3.4% on the day. Investors believe that Netflix used its leverage to influence Comcast’s $42.5B deal to buy Time Warner Cable to negotiate payments that will be low enough to keep profits growing and high enough to help it dominate rivals. “Few others can match [Netflix’s] spend without incurring massive losses,” Janney Capital Markets’ Tony Wible says. Barclays Capital’s Kannan Venkateshwar also sees the deal as a positive for Netflix, even though this is “the first time in the cable industry’s history a content provider will pay for direct access to the [broadband] pipe.”
He said that if pay TV distributors led by Comcast begin to offer Netflix and other so-called over-the-top (or OTT) Internet services via their set-top boxes, then traditional ad-supported TV content providers will have to see them “more as a competitive threat than an additional source of revenue. Ironically, OTT providers are likely to become a source of revenue for distributors rather than a threat, opposite to the conventional wisdom.”
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