You could have the option of bundling your digital subscriptions relatively soon.
In a weird twist of fate, as traditional cable companies have begun to unbundle their programming, standalone streamers are considering packaging their digital offerings to provide subscribers more control over their accounts and their content, while delivering it to them at cheaper rates.
During the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas this past January, John Hendricks, founder of the the Discovery Channel and a major player in the cable bundle boom of the 1980s, met with several major digital content distributors to mull over what a streaming bundle would look like.
“We’re initiating discussions with major distributors of content about offering [subscription video on demand] services to their customers at a bundled rate that is much lower,” Hendricks told Mashable.
It’s not an entirely untested concept. We’re already seeing that content delivery shift with services like Amazon Prime and Youtube Red. The recently launched Red provides its subscribers with its own music service on top of unlimited access to the enormous Youtube video library and growing original content slate. Meanwhile Prime, like Hulu, is now offering standalone subscriptions, that allow you to “bundle” your access to streaming content from networks like Showtime.
But as many in the industry including Hendricks have pointed out, the biggest issue facing the online distribution universe is just how successful it’s turning out to be. Streaming services have managed to woo enough people away from their big, expensive cable packages (with many dropping them altogether), that there’s been a sudden spike in the supply and demand market. However, like its more “traditional” content producers, the speedy climate has left us with more supply than demand.
Subscribers are falling victim to an oversaturation of services. The recurring monthly costs, which generally range from $8 to $15 a month depending on the service provider, add up. Sometimes you get an overlap of content and other times you are only using the service for a specific type of content (or show), leaving you feeling like it was perhaps a low return investment.
There are so many ways to get your content online, from Netflix and Hulu to Amazon Prime and HBO Go, that you sometimes sign up and pay for more than you really want or need to spend money on. This is at the heart of what the bundling option aims to tackle. It may also make the most sense right now, especially when you consider that 19% of adults ages 18-29 have dropped their cable or satellite service while 24% of American adult households don’t have cable or satellite TV, according to data collected by Pew Research Center.
From the business perspective, it saves participating services money in the long run, too. Just like networks that shell out millions on marketing and distribution of their content, online streamers find themselves charging prices to adjust for that level of spending. The more expensive (and high profile) your content is to produce, the more you charge its consumers. Bundling would allow them to share the cost burden better while accessing a broader consumer base. Thus, lower costs for account holders.
Unlike cable companies past approach of all or nothing, online streamers wouldn’t be so quick to force their subscribers into the same dichotomy.
“I think what you’ll see the industry begin to experiment with is subscription video on demand and maybe packages of those that are offered within a bundle,” Hendricks said. “So you may see four, five or six SVOD services bundled together for less money than if you purchased them individually.”
In addition, the online streamers would be able to consolidate account information to make paying more easy to stay up on. But most importantly, they could provide something that the traditional TV rivals can’t: ad free options. You might not be a fan of content packages, but you can’t ignore that a large part of the draw and success of the digital content industry is that it offers consumers the chance to separate ourselves from annoying and drawn out ads.