Richard Rushfield: “Netflix

Richard Rushfield: “Netflix achieved the miracle of a generation, building a service that, from nothing, took on a sleeping entertainment industry. Even if the numbers remain an open question, what they pulled off is astonishing. And if there’s one thing Wall Street loves, it’s miracles. No wonder: When the 2010s began, Netflix stock sold at $10.50. When the decade closed in December, it went at $455. While Netflix was creating a miracle, Disney was building the entertainment business of the century—a full flywheel of goods and services built outward from the gold standard of entertainment brands, sub-brands, and micro-brands. Disney was so successful in this that it managed, for years counting, to defy the most basic law of entertainment: the hits-and-flops ratios. Call it the Big Brother of Entertainment, if you will, argue with its role in stamping out the middle range of filmmaking, but if the game is building on box-office success, no one has come close to achieving what Disney did in the 2010s—a string of monster hits so big that it came darn close to giving one company near monopoly power over the theatrical world. Then it built on top of that an endless stream of goods and experiences: consumer products, theme parks, cruise ships, Broadway shows, spin-off TV series. And Wall Street looked at that monumental business and yawned and pointed to the Netflix stock chart and said, Yeah, movies, toys, rides, whatever… we want one of those! With all of Disney’s success stories, the only thing that got the investment communities’ heart going pitter-pat was when the company would make some announcement or other about Disney Plus.”

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