截至今年第三季度末，Netflix拥有5010万用户。对于很多公司来说，Netflix十分诱人，因为它们都想利用其不断增长的庞大用户群体。今年，该公司还在六个欧洲国家取得了实质性进展，扩大了全球覆盖范围，提升了知名度。同时，Netflix开始制作原创连续剧，比如《纸牌屋》（House of Cards），另一部原创连续剧《女子监狱》（Orange is the New Black）也带来了不俗的回报。
亚马逊在流媒体市场中的份额为1.6%，依然很小。但该公司拥有庞大的视频库，而且已经把尊享即时视频（Prime Instant Video）作为营销手段来吸引更多的该服务付费用户。按照同样的思路，亚马逊可能借助收购来扩大尊享服务用户群，并让消费者长期使用这项服务；或者，就像收购在线游戏网站Twitch那样，拿下一些切实与自身产品有互补性的公司，而不是让收购造成业务重叠。
After Netflix’s stock dropped significantly last month, billionaire Mark Cuban raised his stakes in the company on the conviction that the online video streaming service is a prime takeover target. Regardless of whether he’s right, the more interesting question is who could be the most logical buyer?
With 50.1 million subscribers at the end of the third quarter, Netflix is an attractive target for a wide range of companies looking to leverage its large and growing subscriber base. The company has also made meaningful inroads into six European countries this year, expanding its global reach and brand name. Its moves to produce original programming like House of Cards and Orange is the New Black has also paid off handsomely.
But with a market capitalization of $23 billion and trading at a multiple north of a 100 times earnings per share, the company may be too expensive for most buyers. That narrows down the field of potential acquirers and demands a solid strategic rationale for a takeover.
Two obvious, and often touted, potential suitors are Amazon AMZN 0.58% and Apple AAPL 1.30% , which have the cash and appetite to acquire a company like Netflix. The problem, however, is that both Amazon and Apple have competing streaming video products that are established in their own right. Buying Netflix might save them money in content acquisition because of the overlap, but it could also cannibalize their existing offerings and possibly interfere with the strategic purpose those offerings serve.
While Amazon’s 1.6% share of the streaming market is still small, it boasts a large video library and uses Prime Instant Video as a marketing tool to increase its paid membership for Prime. Along the same lines, Amazon is likely to make acquisitions that expand its Prime membership and keep customers hooked to the program for the long-term, or as in the case of its acquisition of online gaming site Twitch, buy companies that truly complement its offerings instead of doubling up on them.
Given this, the primary reason to buy Netflix NFLX -0.03% would be to sell Prime to its subscribers. But since the average annual cost of Netflix (about $100) is the same as a yearly Prime membership of $99, and since consumers aren’t likely to pay the fee twice, Amazon would be forced to bundle the two — effectively giving away Prime for free to reach Netflix subscribers. It’s also unclear how many Netflix subscribers already shop at Amazon (or could become shoppers naturally without a merger between the two companies).
What all this implies is that there is rationale for some type of marketing partnership between Amazon and Netflix, but not necessarily a merger.
By contrast, iTunes sells its content via downloads. Netflix’s subscription model would be complementary to its service, but with a hefty 65% of the downloads market, it’s hard to see why Apple would risk this revenue stream by offering subscription-based content that it can sell individually instead. Also, it’s true that iTunes’ revenue growth is slowing, but Apple’s strategy of a self-contained universe of i-products has been so successful that it is unlikely to dilute its powerful branded platform by inviting an outsider into the family.