Bundling to Change the Future

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Even with change, history repeats itself.  Consumers of content can see the tides of change.  They have been experiencing it at home and on their phones, tablets, and computers.  Students, experts, and practitioners alike have talked about and analyzed the advent of streaming, disruption, with more and more content availability. 

Bundling.  What is it?   Bundling used to be a practice of courtship in marriage.  Today, bundling is a courtship of content creators and distributors.  According to Wikipedia, bundling is “the selling of different items, typically of hardware or software, together as a package.”

As a practical matter, bundling is where a content platform like Roku or Amazon Fire Stick hosts other content providers and distributors applications for a flat rate or additional flat rate price.  Why does this sound familiar?  Well, not too long-ago cable and satellite carriers like AT&T or Spectrum and Dish would negotiate deals for content.  Now those carriers are platforms like Roku, Hulu, Amazon Fire Stick, and Netflix.  Oddly, or innovatively enough, the new streaming carriers are also the content creators. 

With the above, there are three things to watch closely as bundling partnerships grow:

1. Old Players become New Players

The idea that Disney-owned ABC is possibly getting back into negotiating for Fox’s NFL rights is yet another sign that history repeats itself.  As much as the new technology streamers have changed things, the existing players will continue to adapt to survive.  If ABC is successful in obtaining Fox’s NFL broadcast rights, would such a deal also include streaming and will consumers see that content on the new Disney+ platform or the ABC app via Amazon Fire Stick, Roku, or on Disney-majority owned Hulu?

2. Cooperation & Technology Advancements    

Will the streamers, distributors, content creators, and all parties involved continue the Golden Age of content availability or will the content accessibly fracture continue as Fox sells to Disney and traditional players get smarter about what consumers want by going solo in their solo distribution platforms?  As streaming technology advances, content will only become available more quickly and without disruption.  Technology will grow the availability and consumption of content here in the United States and abroad.  As analytics, data, and technology grow to help understand and influence consumer behavior, it is likely that American’s will enjoy Indian, African, Asian, and European content as much as American content is enjoyed overseas. 

3. Pricing Levels

In line with the question of cooperation between the creators, distributors, and streamers is the issue of pricing.  Will the cost of bundling increase to the level of what cable and satellite providers were charging prior to the explosion of streaming?  Will cable and satellite providers change to offer competitive pricing and use technology to reach more consumers?  AT&T purchasing TimeWarner in 2018 in an $85 billion merger is the most obvious demonstration of the aforementioned and an example of an old player becoming anew. 

Time will tell what bundling will do for and to consumer appetites.  Hopefully, it is one of increased access, cooperation, and competitive pricing, leaving the past behind where streamers do not model what once was. 

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