Last week, prominent New York venture capitalist Fred Wilson made the case
that while everyone is chattering about the breakdown of the 100+ channel cable package, a new bundle is starting to emerge.
The new “bundles” Wilson points to aren’t not just a package of video channels. These bundles put “TV” together with other services.
The most obvious example is Amazon, whose Prime service puts its Netflix-style video service together with free two-day shipping, music streaming, and other perks. According to analysis by Consumer Intelligence Research Partners (CIRP), Prime has over 54 million US members, who spend about $1,100 per year on Amazon, compared to $600 per year for non-members. The spending figures show why this new type of bundling could be valuable to Amazon — though the company probably has to shell out upwards of a billion dollars for two-day shipping expenses. Prime costs $99 per year.
The second example Wilson points to is YouTube Red, which has its own original shows, but also gives you access to ad-free YouTube and a music service. The service costs $9.99 a month, and seems aimed at giving those immersed in the YouTube ecosystem the ultimate experience. The issue here might be that this audience is inherently limited, as its original shows don’t seem like they will appeal to those outside the teen demographic.
The third example Wilson notes is mobile carriers, who he sees as the most obvious new candidates to enter the fray because they “already have a regular billing relationship with us.” But another reason is that they hold the keys to our mobile data, and have plans they could structure with media streaming in mind. When AT&T announced its three new streaming video services earlier this month, the company hinted at potential synergies between the services and its unlimited plans.
A fourth example that Wilson doesn’t discuss is the “create your own bundle” options of Hulu and Amazon, which are closer to a traditional TV bundle. Both services have offered the ability to add on-demand “channels” like Showtime and Starz for a monthly fee. Right now, these add-ons don’t include a huge discount, but that could change in the future. Adding Showtime to your Hulu account is $8.99 a month, while buying access to Showtime’s own streaming offering costs $11 per month.
Wilson argues these “new bundlers” might give us the best of both worlds, since we benefit from the savings those companies accrue in sales and marketing, while not giving a cable-company-style monopoly to one particular player.