Aug 16, 2022 - Economy & Business

The TV bundle is back

Data: Axios research; Chart: Danielle Alberti/Axios (NOTE: Netflix plans to launch an ad-supported tier in early 2023.)

Facing saturation in the U.S., most major streamers are launching cheaper ad-supported streaming tiers, and are beginning to bundle their offerings — often the cheaper plans — with other subscriptions to attract more users.

Why it matters: The streaming era was supposed to give consumers more choice, but streaming options increasingly resemble the bloated cable bundles they sought to replace.

Driving the news: Walmart on Monday signed a deal with Paramount to offer subscribers of Walmart+, its subscription membership program, access to the ad-supported tier of Paramount's subscription streaming service, Paramount+, for free.

  • Walmart is expected to broker similar partnerships with other media companies moving forward.
  • Analysts predict these types of media-retail partnerships will only continue as the streaming landscape gets more crowded.

Between the lines: The news comes days after the Wall Street Journal reported that Google-owned YouTube is considering building its own channel store, which would allow customers to subscribe to various streaming services via their app, akin to programs currently available with Apple, Amazon and Roku.

Be smart: Data from TV research firm Magid finds that consumers haven't increased their roughly $40 monthly streaming budgets since 2019.

  • Even with more ad-supported options, streaming companies are going to have to begin bundling their services if they want to increase their reach.
  • Some companies, like Disney, offer consumers a discount to purchase a bundle of all three of their streaming services, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+.
  • Paramount offers a bundled discount for Paramount+ and Showtime. Warner Bros. Discovery has begun to offer some bundled deals for HBO Max customers to access discovery+.

Flashback: Streamers have long relied on bundled relationships with telecom and hardware providers to increase their footprints.

  • Disney+ is available for six months to new Verizon mobile customers with unlimited data plans. So is discovery+.
  • Netflix is available to T-Mobile customers as a part of a bundled offering.
  • Peacock is available to cable customers from its parent company Comcast for free.
  • Amazon Prime Video is offered to subscribers as a part of Amazon's broader Amazon Prime subscription.
  • Apple TV+ is provided for three months for free to new hardware customers.

What to watch: Streaming companies face enormous pressure from Wall Street to prove their streaming bets will be profitable.

  • While ad-supported tiers offer entertainment giants more opportunities to increase the average revenue they make per user, bundled partnerships can sometimes mean streamers need to sacrifice valuable insights, like data.

Go deeper: Streaming's cancel culture problem

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