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Week In Review: Cross-Media Bundling Is A Thing; Warner Tightens Up Its Windows

1. Cross-Media Bundling Is A Thing

The New York Times and Spotify announced a truly innovative cross-media bundle this week that looks like it’s going to be the wave of the future. New subscribers who sign up for the Times’ $5/week All-Access plan will also get a free Spotify premium membership (a $120 value.)

Why It Matters

This is the first we’ve heard of a cross-media bundle and it’s a brilliant idea. The Times gets a brand new reason to convince people to sign up beyond “support journalism”, which has proven to have some legs as of late (subscriptions are up tenfold since November) but is still a tough sell, especially for the sorts of younger users who might be lured in by the promise of free ad-free Spotify.

Spotify gets a whole bunch of new users it can attempt to monetize in other ways, along with all their data. We’re guessing that Spotify playlists from the New York Times music critics will be part of the new plan too, and if they’re not, then WTF?

We can definitely see other cross-media bundles: e.g., a Hulu ad-free subscription comes with a free year subscription to Entertainment Weekly. There are endless combinations, and brands can even play by sponsoring the bundles—a fashion brand like J.Crew could sponsor the aforementioned mythical Hulu/EW bundle, providing the funds to cover the free EW subscriptions in return for promotional consideration on both platforms.

Let’s just say it’s got legs …

What You Need To Do About It

Start strategizing about how this might work for you. Is there another media company whose user base is complementary to yours? Or whose users might see your content as desirable? Are you a brand that’s looking for a clever alternative to traditional interruptive advertising?

It’s all out there. You just need to come up with a deal and make it happen.

 

2. Warner Tightens Up Its Windows

Warner Brothers announced that it would be moving forward with a plan to offer earlier access to new film releases, particularly for smaller and indie films. Studio chief Kevin Tsujihara noted that with theatrical releases becoming so dominated by franchise films and other tentpole releases, that films in the middle of the market can get lost in the shuffle and that offering them for home release 17 days after their theatrical release was a way to ensure they had a better chance of success. The current window is 90 days, so this would be a major change.

Why It Matters

Windowing has long been a major sore spot for studios. Theater chains do not want to entertain the notion of shorter windows. Several years ago, Universal had struck a deal with Comcast to do a test and show the Eddie Murphy movie Tower Heist in one small market the week after its theatrical release and all three major movie chains immediately threatened to pull the movie, thus quashing the deal.

But revenue is down, particularly for the sorts of smaller, more adult-oriented films Tsujihara is talking about. TV is filling that gap with high-quality series on streaming and premium services and talent—actors, directors and writers—are all looking to TV instead. Something needs to be done reducing windows seems like the right idea.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a studio, you need to support Tsujihara and jump on board the shorter window bandwagon. There is strength in numbers and shorter windows will have a positive effect on your bottom line.

If you’re a theater chain, you need to trust the studios. And to understand that people go to the movies because it’s social and something to do on a Saturday night. The fact that they can stay home and rent the movie for $50 (the price point Warner is allegedly proposing) is not going to stop them from going to the movies. Though you might want to consider upgrading the experience if you’re going charge $12 a ticket.

If you’re a movie lover, remember to keep on going to theaters. Home viewing is fine, but there’s nothing like seeing a movie with an audience.