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December 1, 2023
Direct-to-consumer (DTC) streaming services have played a role in breaking the pay-TV bundle and fragmenting the premium video sector. Now, work is underway for a Great Rebundling that aims to tie together some of those services as media giants behind these streaming services put more focus on churn reduction along with profitability.
The latest evidence is a report from The Wall Street Journal that Apple and Paramount Global are in talks to bundle together their respective streaming services – Apple TV+ and Paramount+.
The proposed combination would result in a bundle that would reduce the cost of the services when they are purchased on a standalone basis, the paper said.
That could be welcome news to consumers who are paying more than ever to subscribe to streaming services that feature the kind of premium content they want.
Fitting with a wider industry trend, Apple recently upped the price of the ad-free Apple TV+ service to $9.99, from $6.99 per month. Paramount+, which offers both ad-free and ad-supported tiers and recently added an option that includes Showtime, has also been raising prices.
The WSJ said the discussions between Apple and Paramount Global are in the early stages, so it's unclear on what such a bundle would be priced at and what elements of Paramount's streaming services would be included. Apple TV+ would include hits such as "Ted Lasso," "The Morning Show" and "Severance" along with select Major League Baseball and Major League Soccer Games and the ability to subscribe to the MLS Season Pass package. Paramount+ features a wider selection of content that includes the Star Trek franchise along with some live TV content, including local CBS feeds and access to select NFL games.
Bundling becoming the way forward
The purported talks emerge as the bundling model continues to take hold in the world of DTC streaming services.
Disney, for example, offers Hulu's subscription VoD service, ESPN+ and Disney+ services as standalones, but also pitches a bundle of all three at a discounted price. Disney is also developing a unified app for Hulu and Disney+ content that's slated to debut in beta form sometime this month.
Among service providers, Verizon is taking aim at streaming bundles with its +play offering. Bundling is also expected to be a key objective for Xumo, the Comcast-Charter Communications national streaming joint venture. Charter, meanwhile, is already working on bundles that tie together streaming and its pay-TV service in the wake of its new distribution deal with Disney.
Additionally, MyBundle is laser-focused on the bundling model via a platform in use by dozens of small and midsized broadband operators, and one that's being amplified by MyBundle's recent partnership with Bango, a company that's already helping to power Verizon's +play offering.
At a higher level, Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav said in September that discussions among media companies about creating new bundles focused on their respective streaming services are accelerating. WBD has been doing some bundling of its own with Max, a supersized streaming service launched in May that combines content from Discovery+ and the former HBO Max service.
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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