Stock strategist: Content is king but pay television rules the roost

Whoever owns the content will rule the living room and, in turn, will rule the American consumer. Right now, pay TV providers from cable to telco to satellite are winning the battle, Independent research firm Morningstar is reporting.

"Considering the tough economic times and high unemployment rate in the United States, pay TV subscriptions have been exceptionally resilient," writes Michael Corty in a Morningstar item, who noted that the firm does "recognize that emerging services pose a threat to the traditional pay television model."

In the end content will win and whoever owns the content will rule the roost. Right now--and for the foreseeable future--content owners owe their allegiance to a profit-churning pay TV model, Corty argues.

"In order to satisfy consumers, we believe owners and distributors will come together to allow subscribers to access content on multiple devices with an authentication system," he writes. Content owners such as Walt Disney Co. (NYSE: DIS), Time Warner (NYSE: TWC-WI), News Corp. (Nasdaq: NWSA), Viacom (NYSE: VIA), Scripps and Discovery (Nasdaq: DISCA) "are taking the right steps to ensure that they continue to get paid for their content, even as alternatives to the traditional pay television emerge. New distribution mediums may get the buzz, but ultimately it's the content providers that will dictate the direction of this sizeable industry."

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