Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are all providing reasons to cut the cable cord on their own, but according to many, there will come a time when all of those will be featured in one bundle, giving customers one single bill to play every month.
That might seem hard to believe, especially since Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon are all vying to become the top dog in this space, but things are trending towards that direction. A step towards that one bill future was recently made by Roku when CEO Anthony Wood announced that customers could now choose from 25 different channels, including Showtime, Starz, and Epix, and pay one bill (via THR). If that trend catches on, you can see the bigger players in the game might also start to play ball at some point down the line.
"Bundling is likely on the horizon as consumers may eventually have streaming-platform fatigue and will not want to subscribe to dozens of SVOD services separately," says Kayla Hegedus, an industry data scientist with Parrot Analytics. "Consumers can already get premium cable platforms as add-ons through Hulu and Amazon, so bundling has already started."
You might have noticed that in Amazon Prime, where you can add premium cable channels like HBO as well as channels like TLC for a small monthly fee (TLC is $5 a month). Bundling the channels you want is preferred by many overpaying an expensive monthly fee for many channels you don't ever watch, but Roku doesn't want to be viewed as just another version of cable.
"The experience of our new offering is in effect bundled, but we are not Comcast. We're not using the term 'bundled,' it's just a way to easily manage your account," says Roku spokesman Eric Savitz. "People are sick of paying for 500 channels of content they don't care about."
Speaking of Comcast, they might be launching their own OTT service sometime in 2019, as NBCUniversal CEO Steve Burke recently teased at a holiday party. "While you all go off to relax, swim or ski," wrote Burke, "Maybe, just maybe, next year we will announce our plan for OTT."
Hulu is already bundling channels like HBO+ and Cinemax for $20 a month, and that trend is just going to continue. "You'll see a lot of that," says Craig Moffett of MoffettNathanson. Ben Weiss, who is the chief investment officer of 8th and Jackson Capital Management, said that Charter and Verizon are also getting in on bundling. "Charter and Verizon will increasingly seek to bundle and sell a package of Internet-delivered content, which could include brands like CBS All Access, Amazon Prime Video, and Netflix," Weiss said.
"I also think that stand-alone companies like Starz could be part of a greater bundle offered by Amazon," says Amy Yong of Macquarie Bank. Michael Pachter of Wedbush Securities believes AT&T and their U-Verse platform makes complete sense as a bundler, so much so that, "I'm surprised they haven't done so yet."
While bundling will become more prevalent, there will be plenty of methods that will fail before the right mixture is found. "There will be so many different ways to sign up, every possible flavor will be attempted," predicts Jimmy Schaeffler of Carmel Group. "Many of the monetization and mixing-of-bundles methods will fail."
Also, not everyone is sold that live-TV will go away completely, and Bruce Leichtman of the Leichtman Research Group doesn't think Netflix will ever team-up with Hulu.
"Four out of five households still want live television," Leichtman said. "Amazon is helping people cobble together a streaming experience, but I don't think Netflix will join, or that Netflix and Hulu would ever team up, and live TV will never be thrown out the window."
For now, we will just have to wait and see, but what say you? Would you like to have Amazon, Netflix, and Hulu on one bill? Let us know in the comments!