Bundling’s back to help consumers save on their SVOD subscriptions and to help video subscription services differentiate themselves.
While some analysts predict stream bundling as the future, others say its skinny bundling trend will be short-lived. Skinny bundles are supposed to be cheap streamlined solutions to organize and discount your subscriptions. Those bundles have put on a few pounds lately.
Why Brands Bundle
The bundling marketing strategy comes from cable TV. To retain and gain customers, providers package two or more services or products, such as internet, TV and home phone, for one low monthly price. Consumers benefited by saving money.
Sure enough, bundling recently kicked-off on the SVOD scene as consumers face a fistful of subscription for their favorite channels. As Raymond Wong of Mashable pointed out, he subscribes to Netflix ($16), Hulu ($12), Sling TV ($25), and Amazon Video ($10). Add Apple TV ($5.00) and the soon to be released Disney+ ($10.00), and he’d pay $78.00 a month just for streaming.
Video and TV streaming services also love bundling since it helps them capture new audiences, and so certain video and TV streaming services outdo each other in monthly discounts on bundled products or services.
8 Bundled Streaming Services
Soon to be launched Disney+ is $6.99 a month. The bundled package that consists of Disney+, Hulu (ad-supported) and ESPN+ is $12.99 a month. Given that Hulu and ESPN Plus cost $6 and $5 per month, respectively, you save $5 a month with this package.
Amazon Prime Video is part of Amazon Prime membership – now $119 a year or $12.99 a month. Choosing from 12 million products, you can buy anything you want – with expedited and free shipping.
3. YouTube TV
YouTube TV offers access to local networks, national networks, and unlimited DVR for the price of $49.99 a month. Its bundle includes 70 channels with local ABC, Fox, NBC, and CBS in 90% of U.S. markets. You get a comprehensive sports and news spectrum plus options that include Discovery Channel, TLC, Animal Planet, Food Network, and HGTV content.
4. Hulu + Live TV
Hulu teams with LiveTV to give viewers sports, news, and more, as well as unlimited access to its extensive on-demand library for $44.99/month. Channels include A&E, Boomerang, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CBS Sports Network, CNBC, CNN, Disney, E!, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, FreeForm, FX, Golf, HGTV, HLN, and Lifetime. Viewers can stream without an internet connection and use a cloud-based DVR with 50 hours of storage.
Spotify partnered with Hulu (ad-supported) to bundle TV and music streaming for $9.99 per month. Because Hulu and Spotify cost $6 and $10 a month, respectively, you save $6 a month with this package. The deal runs until June 10.
6. Sling TV
Sling TV gives you two separate packages, Orange and Blue, for $25 a month after a three-month discount – or Orange + Blue for $40/month. Each comes with free DVR. The Orange package has 20 channels including ESPN, ESPN2, TBS, and diverse/some local channels. The Blue service has 48 channels including Fox, FS1, various Fox and NBC regional sports networks, and TBS.
Viewers can add $5 per month Extras for in-language programming, sports, comedy, kids, or other genres, as well as premium channels like HBO and Starz.
Philo is the most affordable “skinny bundling” TV streaming service on the market with its $16 per month cost for 43 channels that include Comedy Central, MTV, BET, and VH1. Consumers pay $20 a month for its top tier of premium channels that include MTV Live, American Heroes Channel, Cooking Channel and more. Philo gives you unlimited DVR and an on-demand library of more than 1,000 hours of primetime content.
Apple TV+ is $4.99 a month. Its service is free for a year if consumers buy an Apple device – iPhone, MacBook Air or iMac.
Bundling: It’s the Future
While some industry trend watchers predict that stream bundling is the future, Ricky Ray Butler, CEO of Branded Entertainment Network, suggests the skinny bundling trend is set for failure. First, packages like Sling TV, Hulu, YouTube and Philo are bloated, meaning that households will eventually need to reduce them to apps to simplify – so you end up paying for a bundle within a bundle. Second, such services lose their uniqueness.
“Quite frankly, there isn’t room in the market for everyone to be an “everything you need” platform, and to do it well,” Butler says. “What they lack is expertise within a specific category.”
Butler predicts that the next wave will replace bundling with decentralization “where we’ll see more niche platforms popping up that specialize in horror, comedy, drama, kids programming and other categories.”
Do Millennials Choose Streaming Services Based on Their Bundles?
Most studies show Millennials ignore bundling for high-quality original content. In fact, 55% of Millenials told Disney’s Morning Consult researchers they would subscribe to a service just to watch a particular show. Millennials are that hooked on streaming that they’re ready to pay for more than one app, while recommendations from friends and social networks influence around 25% of viewing decisions.
That said, price also matters, which is why Millennials initially ditched their cable for streaming, according to digital marketing agency Boston Digital. Our own Streamlytics survey on African-American Millennials found females to be more price-conscious than males. Presumably, it would be that particular market who would be drawn to bundling.
With more than 100 streaming services, bundling is there to help consumers save and manage their subscriptions. On the other hand, when it comes to skinny bundling customers typically end up paying for channels or services they have no interest in.
At the end of the day, bundling is a dubious money-saver with a dubious future.
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