Pay TV and Cable Lost 5.8M Subscribers in 2022
by Frankie Karrer
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We hate to say we told you so, but we knew it was coming: the TV bundle is back, but not in the way you once thought (and wrinkled your nose—cable bundles, we’re looking at you). Unlike cable TV bundles, which often left consumers forced to subscribe to channels they would never watch, streaming service bundles adopt a more personalized approach, where viewers can subscribe to the services they want—and is something that publishers and networks are considering. “The business’s main gamers are discovering it tougher to develop in such a crowded market and are realizing that they should package deal their choices in new methods…less a la carte ordering and a brand new period of bundles,” explains an article from the Wall Street Journal, which covered the state of streaming’s new ‘rebundling’ last week.
Bundling hasn’t always been well received though, hence the RIP of cable bundles—but don’t worry, there’s no $100-a-month package deals to be seen here. Streaming’s rebundling offers more flexibility and value to consumers than we’ve ever seen before. This marks Connected TV advertising’s new phase, following from the industry’s big headlines this year including WarnerMedia and Discovery merger, HBO Max and Discovery+ and Netflix’s foray into ad-supported streaming.
It’s no surprise that this increasingly saturated market is prompting services to package their offerings in different ways to maintain growth. For example, Warner Bros. Discovery announced that they are joining forces with rivals to create new bundles, while others are strategically hopping onto the retail bandwagon (Paramount+ will be provided as part of Walmart+ membership program). Meanwhile, telecommunications giant T-Mobile provides free Netflix and Apple TV+ and 12 months of free Paramount+ for subscribers on its top-tier limitless wifi plan. From a viewer perspective, not only do these potential offerings (and current ones) lead to better options for content discovery—it’s also cost effective too.
However, from the network side, there are still many factors at play that pose a challenge in this new era of streaming. Besides eating into profits, there’s also the issue of integration. “Take a hypothetical Peacock-Paramount+ bundle. Would each company integrate the others’ content into their own application? If so, would a viewer using the Paramount+ application that chose a Peacock show watch in the Peacock interface or the Paramount+ interface?” asks this recent CNBC article which presents both sides of the ‘rebundling’ argument. Additionally, there’s the image that rebundling signals to the wider industry—perhaps a sign of weakness and that it can’t compete on its own. ”
Ultimately, rebundling could relieve some consumer frustration with the fragmented Connected TV market, and keep them in one place instead of hopping in between different apps. “There’s a little bit of consumer friction there in terms of having to go out of one app and into another,” Disney CEO Bob Chapek said last month, discussing the idea of integrating Hulu, Disney+ and ESPN+ into one user interface. “We like the idea of eliminating friction.” Since the Connected TV industry has reached an inflection point, it’s not only about growing subscribers and scaling, but keeping customers sticky to your brand. “Streaming has moved to the phase where customer loyalty and ancillary revenue are becoming the focus…to have stable subscriber numbers, you need your audience to be loyal to you and your content,” said Jason Anderson, CEO of boutique investment bank Quire.
So, where does this leave the state of streaming? With backers on either side of the argument, it’s clear that the rebundling is still bound to ruffle some feathers—but as the Connected TV industry reaches its next phase, we see that it’ll make a better home on streaming than its predecessors.
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