Efforts by companies like Disney to partner with online services like Netflix and Hulu are just making their problems worse, said Rich Greenfield, a media analyst at BTIG Research. The firm has a "neutral" rating on Disney and a "buy" rating on Netflix.
Disney doesn't think so. In an interview with CNBC on Wednesday, the company's CEO, Bob Iger, said he views "Netflix as friend not foe," adding that he saw no reason to "try to beat Netflix."
In fact, Disney will allow Netflix to stream of some of its top programs—including the popular ABC drama "How to Get Away with Murder," and plans to license its 2016 film slate to the company.
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That could do more harm than good in the long run, according to Greenfield.
"All of these companies have been very interested in monetizing the one company that's paying lots of money for good content, which is Netflix," Greenfield said in an interview with CNBC.
But licensing content to streaming providers will ultimately make consumer interest in watching linear television decrease at an even faster pace, he said.
"This is really the industry literally doing it to themselves and you're seeing the pain that's just starting," Greenfield said, adding that its current survival tactics will ultimately hurt advertising and drive people toward outside on-demand platforms.
"This is a classic prisoner's dilemma game," Greenfield said. "This whole industry [is struggling as] advertisers are looking more to mobile devices."
Many larger media companies have taken approaches similar to Disney's, trying to benefit from the popularity of streaming platforms like Netflix and Hulu, while others have attempted to create their own platforms.
"There's a secular shift going on in media, a shift in consumption of information to entertainment, we've seen it in advertising for the last several quarters. There's been a worry that you're going to see it in affiliate fees, which are directly tied to the number of subscribers to those channels," said research analyst Chris Marangi, who covers cable, satellite and entertainment companies for Gabelli Funds.
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Affiliate fees, revenue generated from distributors, had been a saving grace for Disney and many of its peers, but those are forecast to fall across the board, according to some estimates.
If that happens, the natural next step will be for the media companies to turn on each other and self-destruct, according to John Rose, a consultant with the Boston Consulting Group.
Netflix—whose shares hit a new high on Wednesday—topped estimates during the second quarter, adding a record 3.28 million net new additions, bring its total number of users to 65.6 million.
And Netflix isn't the only threat. In a note released earlier this week, Morgan Stanley analyst Benjamin Swinburne warned that television spending could turn negative if Facebook—which beat Wall Street's estimates with a 43 percent increase in second-quarter ad revenue—joins Google's YouTube as a real replacement for TV.