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Disney Launches A Bundle, Comcast Launches A Study

1. Disney Launches A Bundle

So The Great Rebundling has begun, with Disney’s relatively unsurprising announcement that they will be bundling Hulu and ESPN+ together with their new Disney+ service for just $13/month, a significant savings from the $18/month the three services would cost individually.

No yearly discount has been announced. (Yet. Disney+ itself offers a $7 discount on a yearly subscription, so the broader bundle may follow suit.) 

And, perhaps more important, there’s been no announcements as to whether Disney (a) plans to offer an ad-free version of that bundle, and (b) plans to offer a version that includes their Hulu Live TV vMVPD service.

Why It Matters

As we’ve noted many times before, The Great Rebundling is all but inevitable. With so many Flixes all launching at the same time, all with month-to-month contracts, viewers are going to be churning through them like crazy, both to keep up with the hot show of the moment and to decide which Flixes they want to have a long term relationship with.

That makes it difficult for the Flixes to do any sort of financial projections and makes it especially difficult for them to sell advertising, as they’re not sure how many viewers they’ll have when the ads run.

We see three types of bundling happening:

1. The individual services will offer yearly deals that offer discounts off a monthly subscription.

2. Streaming devices like Roku, Amazon and Apple will bundle the various Flixes and allow viewers to manage them through their accounts. This will also allow the devices to sell advertising across the various Flixes in each bundle.

3. vMVPDs will bundle Flixes in with their broadcast and cable offerings, treating them as come-ons for subscribers, sort of the way MVPDs treated HBO and Showtime, while creating greater stickiness for the vMVPD.

So there’s that, and there’s the fact that so many people keep using that ridiculous phrase “Netflix killer.”

As I told Fierce Cable’s Ben Munson, “Showtime was not an ‘HBO Killer,’ MSNBC was not a ‘CNN killer,’ and ABC was not a ‘CBS killer…People like having options, and it would be awful if we only had a single choice of large SVOD services.” 

OTOH, like its cousin “cord cutting”, “Netflix killer” is a good way to get clicks, so I don’t see its use in headlines stopping any time soon.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Bob Bakish, think about whether bundling all your various apps a la Disney—CBS All Access, Showtime, Pluto and Awesomeness—makes more sense than combining them into a single app. We’d need to see the numbers to make an educated guess, but it bears asking.

If you’re one of the other Flixes, start thinking about what your own bundle is going to look like. If and when you finally launch.

If you’re a consumer, remember that like most things tech, things will get harder before they get easier.

If you’re a reader, stop clicking on “Netflix Killer” headlines. It will take willpower, but we believe in you.

2. Comcast Launches A Study

Comcast came out with a new study on TV viewership this week that offers the good news that viewership is actually up.

Why It Matters 

The report, from Comcast Spotlight, their ad sales division, found that average TV viewing time for Q1 2019 totaled 6h 25m per day, broken down into 5h 32m of linear viewing and 53m of VOD and DVR viewing. That’s a 6% increase over Q1 2018.

(And to answer your question as to WTF has six and a half hours a day to watch TV, the answer is “old people and sick people” who don’t work and are home all day with the TV on as background noise. They skew the averages like crazy.)

While the report ostensibly provides good news, there’s the sticky matter that many people will likely ignore the results due to the source.

It’s actually a well done report and all, but let’s face it: a report from Comcast (and the ad sales arm of Comcast at that!) claiming that people are watching more TV is sort of like a report from Hershey’s claiming people are eating more chocolate.

People take one look at the source and dismiss it out of hand.

I was at a conference this week where the report was being heralded by some as akin to a divine revelation and proof positive that buyers would flock back to TV once they had this in their hands.

If only.

TV’s main problem right now, one we touched on in our report on ad-supported OTT and will dive into greater detail on in our upcoming report of addressable advertising, is that the vast majority of the people who pay to run the ads are so confused and baffled by the system that they’re more or less sticking their fingers in their ears and refusing to listen until everything gets simplified, while the people who should be doing the simplifying are busy doubling down on their use of confusing acronyms and “Everything Is Fine” boosterism and ignoring how confused the market really is.

And it only seems to be getting worse.

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re Comcast, keep on keeping on, but maybe find a co-sponsor for the report next time, so it won’t seem quite so self-serving.

If you’re in the TV ad tech business, remember that while things could be sunshine and roses, they’re not right now, and it’s on you to help educate your audience, and fortunately for you TV[R]EV has a special report on Addressable that can help with that. (We do education and boot camp style sessions too.)

If you’re an advertiser, we can help you to understand why TV is a better deal than ever these days. The good news is there’s a lot being done to help simplify and safeguard the new TV 2.0 ecosystem, like, for example, the anti-fraud protocol MadHive and Beachfront have rolled out that pretty much eliminates OTT ad fraud. (And yes, OTT ad fraud is a thing.) 

And there’s lots more where that came from.

Finally, if you have anything to do with the TV ad ecosystem from any angle, just keep repeating this simple mantra: people remember ads they saw when they were kids. They remember ads they saw two years ago. They don’t remember banner ads they saw ten minutes ago.