With word that Apple this past summer earmarked $1 billion for developing, producing, and acquiring original content, I naively assumed that the rumors and speculation regarding Apple snatching up Netflix were a thing of the past. After all, with Netflix currently enjoying a market cap in excess of $87 billion, it’s hard to imagine Apple — which has only made one acquisition in the billion dollar range in history — actually pulling the trigger.
That notwithstanding, and with Trump’s tax plan set to give Apple a chance to bring back its vast cash holdings abroad at a significant discount, analysts at Citi believe that the likelihood of Apple acquiring Netflix is higher than it’s ever been. Specifically, Citi analysts Jim Suva and Asiya Merchant now put the odds of Apple picking up Netflix at about 40%.
Prior to entertainment behemoth Walt Disney’s (DIS) acquisition of Fox’s studio and TV assets, the Citi analysts had pegged the likelihood of Apple buying Disney in the 20 percent to 30 percent range.
The analysts also said that there is only a 10 percent chance of Apple buying game producers like Electronic Arts Inc., Take-Two Interactive Software Inc. and Activision Blizzard.
Apple bringing Netflix in-house would certainly transform Apple into an instant player in the media space, but as we’ve covered before, Apple could spend a lot less money and still develop a full slate of incredibly well-polished shows with top-name talent. As a quick example, a 10-episode run of a Game of Thrones style production would cost Apple upwards of $60 million per season. Each season of House of Cards, meanwhile, reportedly cost $50 million to produce. All told, Apple could put together 10 incredibly well produced shows for under $600 million.
Beyond any monetary considerations, all of the reports regarding Apple’s TV efforts thus far indicate that Apple views Netflix as a company to compete with, not an acquisition target.