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Why Coronavirus might actually be great news for Netflix

Published Mar 1st, 2020 9:02AM EST
Coronavirus Update
Image: Sascha Steinbach/EPA-EFE/Shutterstock

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There’s no question that the spreading coronavirus is hurting the global economy. Whether it’s the manufacturing of goods in China, tourism in Italy, or trade shows that are a critical part of marketing products, they’re all affected by the COVID-19 outbreak. This week’s Wall Street sell-off is proof of that, as investors are panicking.

But the coronavirus isn’t bad news for everyone, and analysts have already identified the businesses that might thrive during a prolonged flu season: It’s video streaming, the kind of entertainment available to anyone, anywhere, with Netflix being one of the companies expected to remain profitable during the outbreak.

Netflix shares went up 0.8% this week, which isn’t a lot, but it’s a lot better than almost everyone else. That’s a sign that investors believe that any internet company that can provide at-home entertainment will do well during the outbreak, especially with people quarantined at home around the world.

Aside from Netflix, the list includes Facebook, Amazon, Peleton, and even Slack, Variety reports.

“We tried to identify what products/services/companies would potentially benefit in a world of quarantined individuals,” MKM Partners analyst JC O’Hara wrote in a note Thursday, told CNBC. “What would people do if stuck inside all day?”

“If the contagion became more internationally widespread but short of panic, more people are likely to seek home entertainment options such as from companies like Comcast and AT&T, and streaming TV shows and films from Netflix, Disney Plus, Comcast’s Peacock, AT&T’s HBO Max, and others,” Moody’s Investors Services analysts said in a research note.

The latest numbers indicate that more than 83,000 cases have been confirmed around the world, with the death toll nearing 3,000. As seen in the screenshot above, some 36,000 patients have recovered.

There’s no question that if you have to stay at home all day, you might as well binge your favorite shows, and keep yourself entertained with the online services. Not to mention that internet services will help you stay atop the news and communicate with family, friends, and authorities. A couple of weeks ago, the Japanese government gave away 2,000 iPhones to passengers stuck on a cruise ship where some 200 infections were confirmed. The administration wanted these people to be able to ask for help at any time via a preloaded app, not stream Netflix. But the iPhone will stream shows from any service as long as there’s a good internet connection available.

But what happens when too many people have to stay at home, and won’t be able to go to work for the internet companies that keep everyone else entertained? Hopefully we’ll never have to find out.

Chris Smith Senior Writer

Chris Smith has been covering consumer electronics ever since the iPhone revolutionized the industry in 2008. When he’s not writing about the most recent tech news for BGR, he brings his entertainment expertise to Marvel’s Cinematic Universe and other blockbuster franchises.

Outside of work, you’ll catch him streaming almost every new movie and TV show release as soon as it's available.

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