Is Jason Hirschhorn Building The New 'Bundle'?

At a Paley Center for Media event this week, I listened to CNN anchor Brian Stelter probe Jason Hirschhorn on why he started MediaREDEF-- the daily media roundup that is fast becoming indispensable to people in our industry -- and where he was taking it next. I began to wonder if I was listening to the answer to a question that I wonder about quite a bit: “What will the new bundle be?”

I have said it many times: People LOVE bundles, and bundling is by far the best economic model for content production. Any kind of content production. HBO is a bundle of movies and original programs. Netflix is a bundle of movies, TV shows in their second window, and originals. And the bundle we all love to hate -- the cable bundle -- is a bundle of bundles. Sure it might be a bit unwieldy, but let’s just admit that we prefer it.

Think about it: Music “unbundled” with iTunes, and is on the march to rebundling with Spotify, YouTube’s new “Key” subscription music service, and countless others. (We can leave the decisions of the Taylor Swifts of the world for another day, because that is not about what consumers want, but the business relationships and revenue splits between labels and artists. By the way... Taylor Swift’s album is a bundle of Taylor Swift songs.)

But back to Hirschhorn and MediaREDEF, which now has verticals called SportsREDEF, MusicREDEF, and FashionREDEF, with more likely to launch soon. All bundles are about curation. HBO is trying to curate the right mix of original and library content to get consumers to justify the cost of their subscriptions. Cable bundles are doing the same as they attempt to curate the right mix of cable channels. The New York Times attempts to curate the right bundle of original content every day to get people to subscribe. And so on, and so on. But with no end in sight of just how much content is out there, it’s not just about the right bundle, but how that bundle is curated and presented. MediaREDEF is so well-curated that people know it’s going to point them to great content, even if it’s not what they thought they wanted to read. If a cable package is a bundle of bundles, maybe MediaREDEF is a curator of curators. Let’s call it a “meta-curator.”

Other bundles out there are going to have to step up their game on this front as well. I love HBO, but I don’t watch every show on it. I love the Times, but I don’t read every article. We are in a world of nearly infinite choices for content consumption. I would argue that most of us do not end up watching the program we would enjoy the most, or would get the most value from. Instead, we end up watching whatever was put in front of us that was “good enough.” Because how else can we sort through it?

Maybe the lesson here is that MediaREDEF is building a better user interface for a world where channels are infinite and the lines between TV, movies, print and music consumption vehicles are eliminated. Just tell me where I should spend my very limited and very valuable time and attention! Increase my enjoyment and knowledge of all the subscriptions and bundles I pay for, and the ones that are free, and you’re providing a very valuable product.

Of course, once we solve for meta-curation, we still need to figure out how many different subscriptions a consumer would need to be able to watch or read everything MediaREDEF recommends. That’s why I think getting a meta-subscription would be a logical next step, but that might be for down the road. For now, I am very excited to continue my addiction to MediaREDEF daily and watch how meta-curation evolves.

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4 comments about "Is Jason Hirschhorn Building The New 'Bundle'?".
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  1. Leonard Zachary from T___n__, November 13, 2014 at 12:38 p.m.

    Joe the "new" bundle is enabled by technology and the interface. Consumers can now "bundle" what they want and search what may be of interest to them. Try Plex.tv - it's already here.

  2. Joe Marchese from true[X], November 13, 2014 at 5:49 p.m.

    Leonard - But how do you decide what to watch with so much out there?

  3. Douglas Ferguson from College of Charleston, January 9, 2015 at 9:41 a.m.

    I'm late to this discussion, having just read the Six Things You Won't Believe article today, but I'm wondering if you've oversold the ide of bundles. I choose a restaurant for a particular meal, not the size of the menu or the bundle. Could it be that viewers want a particular show and they don't want the bundle to get it?

  4. cara marcano from reporte hispano, January 10, 2015 at 2:25 p.m.

    There is some idea that you also make more revenue and can sell at a higher rate unbundled.. for each item of great content -- Bonin Bough gave a great presentation to Newspaper publishers about this at last year's NAA in Denver ; ) @boughb
    and yet there is a limit to single-serve unbundling no? -- b/c there is so much content, that a #brand of bundled content, segmented and marketed well does have this tremendous value, no?
    Fun conversation !