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商业 - 科技

Netflix投资者该紧张了?

《财富》 2016年01月24日

投资者担心,Netflix的核心业务正在经历一次彻底的演变,由一个数字转播平台转型为一家独立的电视电影制作公司,这将大大抬高其运营成本;而主流电视网络越来越不愿意授权Netflix播放节目,其营收也面临巨大压力。

近一年来,视频网站Netflix的股价一路飙升。原因显而易见。这家流媒体视频公司接连推出《杰茜卡·琼斯》和《毒枭》等多部热门美剧,正在颠覆传统电视产业——许多所谓的“掐线族”已经完全放弃了有线电视。

这是个好消息,但古语有云,“祸兮福之所倚,福兮祸之所伏”。而投资者最担心的,正是这些隐隐浮现的坏消息。

投资者为何要紧张?

Netflix的股价一度在短短几个小时下挫5%以上。市场担忧有二:第一,随着Netflix的原创节目越来越多,其成本也将大幅攀升;第二,由于Netflix正在与各大新闻网络争夺电视节目转播权等原因,其营收也将面临较大压力。

这些隐忧在一定程度上是Netflix公司CEO泰德·萨兰多斯在瑞银集团纽约媒体见面会上发表的一番言论所引发的。

首先,萨兰多斯证实了此前关于Netflix计划增加原创剧集数量的报道。目前看来,这家公司将推出大约比2015年计划的数量超出一倍的原创节目。Netflix2015年原定制作的剧集只有16部,包括时下大热的《女子监狱》和《纸牌屋》。不过萨兰多斯表示,公司计划到2016年年底制作超过30部原创剧集。

这还没完。据各大媒体对这次会议的报道,萨兰多斯还表示,Netflix还打算制作10部电影、30部儿童剧、12部纪录片和10档喜剧节目。换句话说,Neflix正在成为一个全阵容的影视网络。

投资者还担心,Netflix的核心业务正在经历一次彻底的演变或者说改革。Netflix之所以能迅速崛起,获得如今的江湖地位,正是因为它扮演了一个数字转播平台的角色——在网络平台上分销各大电视台制作的电视节目。当然,相对Netflix的最初业务来说,这本身也是一次重大转变。这家公司最初是依靠出租流行电影DVD起家的。

这是一项成本相对较低的业务,因为Netflix不必制作自己的原创内容。然而现在,Netflix本质上已经转型为一家独立的电视电影制作公司,只不过它制作的绝大多数影视作品是通过自己的网络平台传播的。

这意味着Netflix的成本将显著升高,因为电视剧的制作成本往往高达几百万美元,电影的制作更是动辄消耗几千万甚至几亿美金。另外,人们对原创影视作品工作室和开发商的估值,也迥异于Netflix这样的数字传播平台。

尽管原创影视的制作成本很高,但是Netflix除了走原创这条路子,也没有多少其他选择。主流的广播电视网络越来越不愿意授权Netflix转播他们的影视节目,因为他们已经意识到,Netflix正在利用他们自己的节目偷走他们的观众。

这也就解释了为什么越来越多的电视台表示,他们将不会把剧集授权给Netflix播放,或者将推迟授权的时间。有几家电视台甚至开始提供自己的流媒体视频服务,比如康卡斯特公司推出的Stream。

此外,他表示,签订美剧的全球转播协议“并不顺利”,部分原因是美国电视台习惯于按特定国家和地区签订转播协议,而不是签订全球性协议。但这也有可能是由于各大广播电视台觉得他们给予Netflix的已经太多了。

尽管Netflix在网络视频和电影领域面对着亚马逊工作室这样强劲的竞争对手,说不定还要和苹果电视正面抗衡,但Netflix的股价2015年依然强势上涨了近40%。

毫无疑问,Netflix已经凭借其内容取得了巨大的成功,很多电视观众更青睐Netflix的服务,而不是有线电视。但与此同时,Netflix正在走上一条成本持续大幅上涨的道路,而且它与传统电视网络和潜在对手的竞争也从未像今天这样激烈。

Netflix的股价将继续上涨多久?

Netflix已经一次又一次挺过了唱衰的声音,其股价仍然在高歌猛进。但是,它能挺过潜在竞争对手的这轮袭击吗?

Netflix是怎么做到的?2014年一整年,各路专家都称Netflix的股价被高估了,还有不少批评人士嘲笑了它的剧集质量。与此同时,一些强有力的竞争对手也正在构建自己的流媒体视频服务,试图挤进由Netflix独霸的在线影视市场。

这样说来,Netflix的处境本应非常艰难才对,然而它却展现出了前所未有的大好势头,其股价上周达到了历史最高的132美元。下图展示了该公司9月份以来的股价走势,大家好好感受一下。

Netflix’s stock price has soared over the past year, and it’s easy to see why. The streaming video company has several of the most popular shows around—including Jessica Jones and Narcos—and has disrupted the traditional television industry to the point where many “cord cutters” have given up cable altogether.

That’s the good news. But often when there’s a lot of good news, there’s also potential bad news lurking around the corner, and that’s what has some investors in Netflix NFLX -4.31% concerned.

Why Investors Are Getting Nervous

Recently, the two fears that sent Netflix shares tumbling more than 5% in a matter of hours were as follows: 1) That Netflix is going to see its costs dramatically increase, as it takes on more and more of its own original programming. And 2) That the company’s revenues might also be under pressure for a number of other reasons, including an ongoing battle with TV networks over licensing of their shows.

Those fears seem to have been triggered in part by comments that Ted Sarandos, Netflix’s chief content officer, made at a UBS media conference in New York.

For one thing, Sarandos expanded on previous reports that Netflix wants to add to the number of shows it produces. It now looks as though the company will almost double the number of original programs from what it put on its schedule this year. Instead of just 16 shows on the roster, including Orange Is The New Black and House of Cards, Netflix plans to have more than 30 of its own shows by the end of 2016, Sarandos said.

And that’s not all. According to several reports from the UBS conference, the Netflix executive said that the company is also working on 10 new feature films, 30 children’s shows, 12 documentaries, and 10 stand-up comedy specials. In other words, Netflix is becoming a full-fledged network.

Part of what investors are struggling with is that Netflix is undergoing a pretty fundamental evolution, or revolution, in what it does. The company rose to prominence as a digital distributor of TV programming produced by other companies—the major TV networks, etc. (which was in turn a pivot from its original business of renting DVD versions of popular movies).

That was a relatively low-cost business, since Netflix didn’t have to produce any of its own content. But now, the company is essentially becoming a standalone TV and motion picture studio, albeit one that distributes the majority of its product online.

That means dramatically higher costs, since TV shows can costs millions of dollars to develop and produce, and movies can cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars. Studios and developers of original programming also tend to be valued very differently from digital distribution channels like Netflix.

Despite the higher costs, however, Netflix doesn’t really have a choice when it comes to focusing on its own original content. Why? Because the major TV networks and broadcasters are becoming increasingly reluctant to license their shows to the company, in part because they have gradually realized that Netflix is stealing their customers—using their own content.

This explains why more and more networks are saying they will withhold shows from Netflix, or delay the period in which they license them. Severalare even trying their own Netflix-style streaming services, such as Stream from Comcast.

Then there was Sarandos’s second comment: The Netflix executive said signing global licensing deals for U.S. shows “has not been an easy road.” In part, that’s because U.S. networks are used to signing country-specific or regional licensing deals rather than global ones. But it’s also likely being driven by a growing concern on the part of broadcasters about how much they have given Netflix already.

Netflix shares have climbed by almost 40% so far this year, despite the appearance of some formidable competitors in the online video and movie market, including Amazon Studios AMZN -0.42% and potentially Apple TV AAPL -0.63% as well.

There’s no question that Netflix has been tremendously successful with its content, and a large segment of the TV-viewing public sees the service far more central to their lives than their cable subscription. But at the same time, the company is on a path that will see its costs continue to increase dramatically—and competition with existing TV networks and potential new players has never been more fierce.

How Long Can Netflix Keep Climbing?

Netflix has defied critics again and again, and it’s still riding high. But can it survive an onslaught of coming competitors?

How does Netflix do it? Over the course of the last year, analysts have claimed the company’s share price is over-valued, and critics have sneered at some of its shows. Meanwhile, powerful competitors are dialing up their streaming game in a bid to muscle in on Netflix’s TV and movie market.

By these accounts, Netflix NFLX -4.31% should be faltering. Instead the company is killing it like never before, as evidenced by a stock price pop that reached a new record high of $132 last week. To get a better idea of how Netflix is doing, here is a chart showing its stock since September:

在这一阶段,科技股云集的纳斯达克大盘只上浮了7%。Netflix高达40%的涨幅可谓相当惊艳。

那么,Netflix的增长势头又是从何而来呢?11月份有两件事的确为它助力不少。其一,加拿大皇家银行资本市场公司发布消息称,半数以上的美国互联网用户都表示使用过Netflix观看电影和电视。其二,著名分析师马克·马哈尼认为Netflix的股价可冲击140美元。

不过Netflix很快就要面临激烈的竞争了。另一家视频网站Hulu 2015年9月已宣布,将推出一个免广告的流媒体视频平台。更令Netflix担心的,则是YouTube也宣布将斥巨资购买电视和电影作品转播权的消息。目前还不知道Netflix将如何应对。与此同时,亚马逊也加大了Prime视频服务的广告宣传力度。Facebook也于2015年11月宣布,其日均视频点击量达到了80亿次,看来Facebook迟早要推出一个专业的娱乐平台。

随着各大科技巨头一齐进军流媒体视频市场,各大影视制作公司已经意识到有更多的买家看上了他们的影视节目,而对于Netflix来说,这意味着视频内容的价格将不可避免地继续攀升。Netflix已经宣布将适度上调用户的会员费,不过目前还不清楚这能否抵消将来的内容采购成本。在这种情况下,Netflix一路飙升的股价(包括超过300倍的市盈率)可能很快就被证明是过于乐观了。

另一方面,人们以前一度低估了Netflix。前CEO里德·哈斯廷斯曾放言,Netflix将成为HBO势均力敌的竞争对手,惹得时代华纳公司的老板将Netflix嘲讽为“阿尔巴尼亚军队”,而Netflix此后生猛的发展势头也响亮地打了这位大老板的脸。

在原创内容方面,虽然Netflix直到2012年才开始制作自己的影视作品,但事实证明,Netflix有能力制作出《超胆侠》这样的佳作,从而抵消了《马克波罗》这种烂片带来的不利影响。一系列热门原创剧集,加上它在美国巨大的市场份额,意味着Netflix仍将是2015年最成功的美国流媒体视频网站。至于这个地位能不能保持到2016年年底,则完全是另一回事了。(财富中文网)

译者:朴成奎

审校:任文科

This is a remarkable rise of nearly 40% during a time when the tech-heavy NASDAQ index posted more modest gains of 7%.

So what’s the source of Netflix’s momentum? It’s hard to say. The company did get a nice boost in November when RBC Capital Markets reported that over half of American Internet users say they’ve used Netflix to watch movies and TV, and analyst Mark Mahoney predicted the stock could hit $140.

But it’s hard to see how this offsets the fact Netflix will soon face colossal competition, including from Hulu, which announced in September a new ad-freestreaming platform. And perhaps more frightening for Netflix, YouTube GOOG -0.46% said this month it will be opening its very big wallet to buy TV shows and movies too. Meanwhile, Amazon AMZN -0.42% has been upping its advertising game to promote its Prime video service. And finally, it feels like a matter of time before Facebook FB -0.54% , which in November boasted 8 billion video views a day, decides to offer a professional entertainment platform.

For Netflix, this means the price of precious content will climb as studios realize more buyers want to snap up their shows. The company has alreadyannounced a modest price increase, but it’s unclear if that will be enough to keep up with future content acquisitions costs. In this context, Netflix’s soaring share price (including its eye-watering price-to-earnings ratio of over 300) could soon prove optimistic.

On the other hand, people have underestimated Netflix before. The head of Time Warner TWX -0.35% once derided the company as the “Albanian army” only to watch Netflix CEO Reed Hastings make good on his promise to become a full-blown rival to HBO.

And when it comes to original content—which Netflix didn’t even have until 2012—the company keeps showing it can make good new shows like Daredevil that offset its hot messes like Marco Polo. The new hits, along with its huge U.S. marketshare, means Netflix will finish 2015 on top. Whether it will still be there at the end of next year is a whole other story.

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