Streaming has evolved from being a cost-effective way for cord-cutters to say goodbye to what was, at the time, a more expensive cable TV service. Today, streaming services present a virtual buffet of content. On the surface this is a good thing – but not so fast.
In order for the average viewer to get everything that’s preferred content-wise, there’s often a need to subscribe to multiple services. All these monthly fees can quickly add up; and end up being more than what a typical cable bill would be. So, why not just bundle streaming services like what’s common these days with cable? It’s not such a far-fetched idea – and it’s one that could eventually become the new norm.
So, Why Bundling?
With cable, there was a time when you could pick and choose which paid channels you wanted to add to your service. But that all changed when cable companies started offering an assortment of other services and more networks and channels fought for prominent placement in cable channel lineups.
Eventually, deals were struck and bundling and tiers became the go-to service structure for cable service providers. If this same concept is applied to streaming services, you would be able to tap into a broader range of choices without having to pay for each service individually. Plus, if there’s nothing that appeals to you on one service, you can easily switch over to another one that’s in the same bundle.
How’s It Already Being Done (to Some Extent)?
There has been some consolidation within the streaming industry that has resulted in bundling options on a smaller scale. One example is Disney+, which is owned by the same company that owns ESPN+ and a controlling share in Hulu. For this reason, all three of these services can now be bundled ($14 with ads, $20 without). For an extra fee, you can also add Hulu’s live TV service to this bundle.
Can Streaming Demand Contribute to More Bundling Options?
This is certainly a possibility. In fact, some industry insiders believe this could very well be what happens in the future as more people become regular streamers. In addition, there’s the demand factor. Meaning, that more streaming service customers are looking for ways to make streaming services more budget-pleasing. In fact, a survey conducted towards the end of 2021 found more than 40 percent of U.S. adults questioned expressed concern about how much they were paying for streaming services.
What about Consolidation?
It’s generally agreed among industry insiders there will inevitably be some consolidation among the companies and corporations behind various streaming services. While it’s not so clear whether or not individual companies will be willing to partner up and offer bundling options, there could be some internal bundling. In other words, larger companies that own or manage multiple platforms could offer bundling packages. ViacomCBS, for instance, owns Showtime, BET+, Paramount, Sling TV, and Pluto TV (plus some others). So, it would, in theory, be fairly easy for ViacomCBS to offer an in-house bundle.
What Key Players Could Dominate as Streaming Service Models Evolve?
Netflix and Disney+ top the list of likely survivors once the streaming dust settles and more practical service options become available on a large scale. It’s also likely HBO Max and other big names like Amazon’s Prime Video will remain viable. In order to do so, though, they may have to give in to customer demand and explore the possibilities with bundling options. Other industry insiders believe consolidation that creates cable TV-like bundling options could come down to survival of the fittest. Smaller streaming platforms and service providers may eventually have no choice but to consolidate just to remain profitable.
The main problem for streaming content consumers is finding consistent and reliable platforms. Even with Netflix, some of the main content creators eventually leave the platform as deals expire or companies reclaim ownership of their content and distribute it via their own platforms. At the end of the day, it all comes down to finding and adopting a business model that’s profitable. Bundling has actually worked out very well for cable companies. So, it may end up being what’s ultimately adopted by streaming services in the not-so-distant future.