NCTC-MyBundle.TV deal gives broadband ops a play in the streaming game

A new "strategic partnership" between the National Content & Technology Cooperative (NCTC) and MyBundle.TV is poised to help hundreds of cable and broadband operators fit into a pay-TV and premium video market that's rapidly transitioning to streaming.

The agreement enables the NCTC, an organization that strikes programming and technology deals for its membership of 700-plus broadband service providers, to provide access to a platform and toolkit from MyBundle.TV that enables consumers to build streaming service packages based on their viewing interests and budgets.

The agreement might also open opportunities for NCTC members to develop bundles that tie together broadband with third-party streaming services, including premium subscription video-on-demand (VoD) offerings or pay-TV services delivered by over-the-top (OTT) providers.

Heading into the NCTC agreement, MyBundle.TV has already signed on 117 broadband service providers that collectively serve about 9 million customers.  
(Source: MyBundle.TV)
Heading into the NCTC agreement, MyBundle.TV has already signed on 117 broadband service providers that collectively serve about 9 million customers.
(Source: MyBundle.TV)

The deal, which offers unified terms to all NCTC members, will also support a recently-launched free, ad-supported TV (FAST) offering from MyBundle.TV that today delivers a lineup of about 45 channels via apps for web browsers and mobile devices, with integrations with TV streaming platforms on the roadmap. MyBundle.TV allows its new FAST offering to be branded by its broadband service partners, according to MyBundle.TV founder and CEO Jason Cohen.

MyBundle.TV also operates a streaming marketplace with more than 160 services under a commission/revenue share model.

In addition, the company is building out a "Streaming Rewards" program that enables its partners to package together their own services with streaming services. A prime, early example of that is a new "PickME Plan" from Wisconsin-based Norvado, which includes credits that customers can apply toward premium streaming services such as Netflix, Disney+, HBO Max and Amazon Prime Video.

A new approach to pay-TV and video

The NCTC-MyBundle.TV agreement comes together as cable operators, both big and small, try to come to grips with their role in a video marketplace that is quickly shifting to streaming services and direct-to-consumer (DTC) distribution models.

Though some cable operators are migrating to IP- and app-based versions of their own pay-TV offerings, others are deemphasizing pay-TV services and putting more attention on their high-margin broadband services. In extreme cases, cable and broadband service operators have dropped out of the pay-TV game altogether and ceded all things video to third-party streaming options.

The NCTC, which dropped the words "cable" and "television" from its moniker following a recent rebrand and broader pivot of the organization, believes that MyBundle.TV's technology tools can help its membership play a more significant role in the streaming era, particularly as an aggregator and potentially as a service bundler.

"To me, this is a natural, strategic relationship where we can, together, develop sort of a standard by which customers find, enjoy and consume the streaming packages and options of their choice," NCTC CEO Lou Borrelli said. "The thing that's missing in the whole streaming option is the fact there is no real organizing principle."

Video, Borrelli contends, remains an important service component for NCTC's membership, even if it is not packaged, sold or presented the way it has been with the traditional cable TV model.

MyBundle.TV has been making progress with its approach and had already notched deals with more than a dozen NCTC members prior to this new agreement. Cohen says his company currently has agreements with 117 broadband service providers serving more than 9 million customers. Examples include Frontier Communications, CenturyLink/Lumen, WideOpenWest, Glo Fiber and C Spire.

Bringing order to a fragmented streaming landscape

"The video market is changing," Cohen said, holding that consumers are in need of tools to navigate a fragmented landscape of streaming services in order to determine which ones best suit their interests and budgets.

"It doesn't matter what your strategy is as it relates to the traditional pay-TV package," Cohen added. "It's not an alternative to pay TV. It's a complement."

MyBundle.TV isn't the only company with this idea. A mix of operators and other vendors, including Comcast, Verizon, Roku, Amazon, Xperi/TiVo, Google and even startup Glidr, are all taking a shot at it in some way.

The NCTC has inked several one-off agreements with individual streaming services, including Cheddar, Curiosity, HBO Max, Hulu, Peacock, Disney+, ESPN+, FuboTV and Philo. But Borrelli views the new NCTC-MyBundle.TV agreement as a "collaborative effort" that could play a major role in the way the video and pay-TV distribution market evolves.

"It's one thing for [MyBundle.TV] to build tools and have our member companies affiliate. It's another thing for us to jointly approach media companies, content partners and streaming companies, to come up with more innovative ways to develop the business," Borrelli said.

"I think [the video market] will evolve into a relationship that will look something like the older version of cable being an essential distribution partner for content," he added. "It will not necessarily have the same economic benefit to either party, because that horse has already left the barn. But I do think it enables us to provide a much better customer experience. But everybody has to be in the game."

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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