According to R.W. Baird financial analyst William Power, and reported initially by MarketWatch, Disney and (to a lesser degree) Apple are considering scooping up Netflix. I doubt it will happen, but there are valid reasons for our favorite tech company to make such a move.
The 2015 Statista’s Digital Market Outlook found that annual revenues from video streaming and downloads are expected to grow by more than US$6 billion by 2020 – almost four times the expected growth of the digital music market. Considering that subscription-based streaming is the primary growth driver in the online video market, it would make sense for Apple to get into the game.
An Apple-Netflix combo would create a media powerhouse in the film and movie industry. This would mean the movie industry might not be able to press back against Apple as hard nor be able to charge as much for content as it does with Netflix.
Netflix has a commanding lead in the streaming video which could jumpstart Apple's efforts in the market, holding over 37% of the Internet's U.S. traffic in 2015. Apple's iTunes accounted for 3% of peak download traffic in 2015, finishing in a multi-way tie for fourth place with Amazon Video, BitTorrent, Hulu, and Facebook. Our favorite tech company would surely love to increase its presence in the video streaming market.
Apple could certainly afford to buy the streaming service. After all, Apple has around US$215 billion in cash. Netflix's cash value is, as best I can tell, about $45 billion.
Buying Netflix might be simpler than reinventing the wheel. It would also be a separate division from the iTunes Store, which rents and sells movies and TV shows — although an Apple-owned Netflix (Appleflix, perhaps?) could include links in streamed shows to iTunes in case you saw something you wanted to own.
Admittedly, in an interview in July, Eddy Cue, Apple’s senior vice president of Internet Software Eddy Cue stated that the company wasn't interested in becoming a Netflix competitor. Of course, Apple has also not been interested in bigger iPads, styluses, and various other products over the years that the company eventually released.
I'm doubtful that Apple will buy Netflix. But stranger things have happened, and there is a certain logic in such a move.