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The Battle of the Bundles Begins

by Uneeb Khan

With Paramount+ recently announcing a new partnership with Walmart, it seems we’re seeing another streaming battle erupt- the race to find new platforms and partners to make subscription fees seem compelling to tight budgets. Brandon Blake, entertainment attorney with Blake & Wang P.A, unpacks this newest trend.

Revisiting the Bundle

Ironically, with the rise of subscription streaming, we were promised the bundle era had ended. However, several years into the digital boom, back they come. Some analysts now claim that streaming seems to be swinging to aping Pay-TV more and more, and it’s hard to argue with that looking at the current scene. Amazon Prime, of course, has always offered its bundle service, with video initially a small part of the offering. Now we have Paramount’s confirmed move into the space with Walmart- not even the only deal like this Paramount offers, with their Showtime bundle also being reworked. And Disney has long been leveraging this space, with its Verizon partnership, Disney Bundle (incorporating Hulu, ESPN+, and Disney+) and a Disney/National geographic magazine bundle also on the cards. Now we’re seeing a Disney/Uber partnership too.

More to Come

Nor do Disney seem content to hold there. There’s word afoot that a subscription membership for the parks/live events and VOD service could be on the cards.

Of course, of all of our current streaming brands, Disney has always been a ‘lifestyle’ brand, so offering many touch points makes sense for them. And this creative bundling pattern has helped boost their quick rise to the top echelons of streaming. Likewise, it’s easy to understand why Apple are now looking at bundling- they have the same dedicated brand demographic who like to own all things related to the beloved brand at the core.

But looking at the wider picture, it’s also a case of subduing churn- the new metric to worry about for streamers. The more invested a holder feels in the bundle- and the more value they get from it- the less likely they are to drop it for someone else who offers them less.

Unlike Disney and Apple, both of which have managed to keep their brand and name font-and-central in their bundling offerings, Paramount+ have opted to take a partnership that puts more focus on Walmart+ than the streamer. This suggests an interesting new dynamic to add to the scene, sacrificing some brand prominence to subdue that infamous churn. 

It’s no longer enough to just be a streamer. Today, whether through highly creative branding, bundling and partnerships, or even channel stores, the streaming industry is again in flux. The first heady rush of easy pickings has gone, and now we’re seeing a to-the-wires fight to be seen as the most valuable in a crowded arena- and a concurrent price rise too, of course.  Who will manage to find the right balance of traction, value proposition, and cost remains to be seen, but one thing is for certain. Streaming is still a heavily evolving industry, and one somewhat in flux- and it looks like bundles are coming home to roost once again.

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