Sign up for our daily briefing

Make your busy days simpler with Axios AM/PM. Catch up on what's new and why it matters in just 5 minutes.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on the day's biggest business stories

Subscribe to Axios Closer for insights into the day’s business news and trends and why they matter

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Stay on top of the latest market trends

Subscribe to Axios Markets for the latest market trends and economic insights. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Sports news worthy of your time

Binge on the stats and stories that drive the sports world with Axios Sports. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Tech news worthy of your time

Get our smart take on technology from the Valley and D.C. with Axios Login. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Get the inside stories

Get an insider's guide to the new White House with Axios Sneak Peek. Sign up for free.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Catch up on coronavirus stories and special reports, curated by Mike Allen everyday

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Denver news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Denver

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Des Moines news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Des Moines

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Twin Cities news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Twin Cities

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Tampa Bay news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Tampa Bay

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Want a daily digest of the top Charlotte news?

Get a daily digest of the most important stories affecting your hometown with Axios Charlotte

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Most of the digital content bundles that Americans are using in the place of costly cable packages are significantly hiking their prices as they grow and hook consumers.

Why it matters: Bundled content packages are an increasingly popular way for consumers to watch video content, but there is little regulation around pricing, consolidation and distribution fees to protect consumers from long-term price inflation. 

Regulators rarely step in to stop price hikes for traditional Pay-TV service providers, which are seeing consumers depart in droves. And the pricing fights between distributors and content creators are becoming more frequent and are leading to a record number of programming blackouts for consumers.

The digital distributors: Most virtual multichannel video programming distributors (vMVPDs) — or skinny bundle packages with live programming — have hiked the prices of their digital TV subscription fees as their user bases continue to grow.

  • July 2018: AT&T's DirecTV NOW emailed customers that it was raising the prices of its starter plan by $5 per month.
  • July 2018: Sony's Playstation Vue announced that the price for all PS Vue multi-channel plans — Access, Core, Elite and Ultra — will increase by $5.
  • June 2018: Dish' Sling TV is raising the base price of its core packaging (Sling Orange, 30 channels) from $20 per month to $25 per month.
  • Mar 2018: YouTube TV announced it would be raising its subscription from $35 to $40 monthly (after it added Turner programming). 

The on-demand companies: The largest subscription video on-demand companies (SVODs) — like Netflix and Amazon — are also increasing prices.

  • Oct 2017: Netflix raised its subcription from $11.99 to $13.99 monthly. That's nearly double what it was just four years ago at $7.99 per month in 2014. Variety reported in July that Netflix is testing a pricier ‘Ultra’ plan for $16.99 monthly.
  • Apr 2018: Amazon raised its subscription from $8.25 to $9.91 monthly after it revealed it had 100 million subscribers.

Bottom line: Many consumers end up subscribing to more than one of these skinny bundles. Eventually, consumers could expect to pay more for digital programming in total than they do now for their traditional cable package.

The bigger picture: Regulators at the FCC and FTC can't stop these services from raising their prices, even if they collectively end up one day costing consumers more than they pay now for hundreds of cable channels.

  • The only opportunity there is to keep the rising costs of skinny bundle services in check is by addressing competition during regulatory reviews of mergers and acquisitions.
  • Still, a federal judge passed on the opportunity to set a wide precedent in managing competition in the digital skinny bundle world by letting the AT&T merger with Time Warner go through without requiring any divestitures.

What's next? Expect this trend to carry over to other on-demand media. Spotify is testing a 10% subscription fee increase in Norway.

Go deeper

House Judiciary Committee advances reparations bill in historic vote

Sheila Jackson Lee. Photo: Al Drago/Getty Images

The House Judiciary Committee voted 25 to 17 Wednesday to advance a bill that would create a commission to study reparations for Black Americans who are the descendants of slaves.

Why it matters: "No such bill has ever come this far during Congressional history of the United States," said Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee (D-Texas), who sponsored the bill, per the Washington Post.

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Officer Kim Potter arrested, charged with manslaughter in Daunte Wright's death

Kim Potter's booking photos. Photo: Hennepin County Sheriff's Office

Kim Potter, the former police officer charged with second-degree manslaughter in the fatal shooting of Daunte Wright, was released on a $100,000 bond on Wednesday, Hennepin County jail records show.

Why it matters: Sunday's shooting of the 20-year-old Black man in Brooklyn Center, Minnesota, just 10 miles from where George Floyd was killed by a Minneapolis police officer last year, has reinvigorated Black Lives Matter protests and led to three consecutive nights of unrest.

Updated 5 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Biden names Erika Moritsugu as senior AAPI liaison

Erika Moritsugu. Photo courtesy: National Partnership for Women & Families

President Biden has named Erika Moritsugu as deputy assistant to the president and Asian American and Pacific Islander senior liaison, the White House announced Wednesday.

Driving the news: The decision follows weeks of pressure from AAPI leaders to include more Asian American representation at the Cabinet level and in senior administration roles.

You’ve caught up. Now what?

Sign up for Mike Allen’s daily Axios AM and PM newsletters to get smarter, faster on the news that matters.

Please enter a valid email.

Please enter a valid email.

Subscription failed
Thank you for subscribing!