In the fight against slowing growth, Netflix and its rivals are all united


For the past three years, the global media and entertainment industry has been defined by the streaming wars. Every media company created a streaming service to compete. Only the strongest would survive, so the story went. The losers would consolidate or die.

Last year the streaming wars didn’t end, but a metaphorical meteor was approaching the entertainment world in the form of slowing growth. For the first time ever, Netflix lost subscribers. Shares fell more than 60%. disney, Comcast unit NBCUniversal, Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery had also transformed their businesses to revolve around streaming, so their shares fell dramatically as well.

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Media companies are still fighting it out for hit shows, advertising dollars and, ultimately, eyeballs. But imagine what would happen on Earth if an apocalypse happened: land wars would become less important. They may even stop. The threat of mass destruction becomes the common enemy.

That’s what Netflix’s latest quarterly report suggests. Netflix added 7.7 million streaming subscribers in the fourth quarter, beating analyst estimates of closer to 5 million. Shares of Netflix rose more than 6% after hours.

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Previously, great news for Netflix was bad news for older competitors competing with Netflix. Those days are over. Now the industry is coming together. Disney, Comcast, Paramount Global and Warner Bros. Discovery were all up slightly after Netflix’s report.

Read more: Netflix founder Reed Hastings is stepping down from his CEO role

Media companies are battling, at least temporarily, a common enemy: streaming subscriber fatigue. Wall Street does not like sluggish growth.

Netflix’s big quarter doesn’t yet include results from forcing password sharers to pay, a process that will soon gain momentum. That’s more good news for Netflix and the industry at large, which can follow Netflix’s lead. Netflix said it expects Q1 subscriber growth to be lower than Q4 due to general seasonal reasons, but it expects growth in Q2 as more customers sign up rather than lose service as Netflix cracks down on password sharing.

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The old media world was defined by Netflix disrupting the legacy industry. Now, as Netflix goes, so goes the media world. A gang of brothers. Kind of.

WATCH: Netflix shares soar after beating subscribers