Is a new spin on cord-cutting coming? Mull this mash-up: Cord-cutting of digital TV bundles with sports TV-based TV networks.
Speaking at an industry event -- J.P. Morgan’s 2018 Global Technology, Media and Communications Conference -- David Zaslav CEO, Discovery Inc., said the price for sports channels is unsustainable. He dubbed it an “overstuffed bubble.”
We assume price pertains to both consumers (retail) and pay TV providers (wholesale). We can then assume this isn’t just about traditional pay TV packages, but for those fancy new “vMVPD” packages -- from virtual multichannel video program distributors.
Right now, consumers are happy TV networks bundle packages -- internet-delivered -- for around $20 to $50. This is a much better deal than the $80 to $150 a month price tag for a traditional cable, satellite or telco TV package.
Many believe low vMVPD price tags may not last -- especially as sport TV rights fees rise on a nonstop basis, even with mediocre, but mostly steady, sports TV viewing.
For its part, Discovery believes non-sports TV packages will be the next rising trend: a price tag from $15 to $20. This doesn’t mean that there will be a mass exodus of TV consumers from sports TV-based TV packages -- but non-sports will be an option.
"There could be a real renaissance for subscribers, which they deserve, where people in America have a chance to buy a bundle of entertainment for $15 ... and then you'd see significant growth," said Zaslav.
Might that savings suggest other options?
Think about what ESPN is doing with ESPN+ -- offering a separate, standalone OTT app. Would consumers then consider adding just a sports OTT app -- or two?
For years, TV analysts worried about what would happen if consumers had a true a la carte choice of networks. Many feared ESPN would get severely hurt -- the result of lower subscribers and weakening advertising.
In offering ESPN+ -- as well as keeping its other platforms intact -- there’s a hedging bet in play, just in case more traditional TV disruption comes.
One thing is sure: Consumers are no longer in the mood for paying ever-rising prices for entertainment. For example, theatrical movie pricing continues to rise; while at the same time, attendance declines. Call this theatrical movie cord-cutting.
Right now, sports TV programming is today's focus. But tomorrow, maybe cord-cutting will move onto other areas -- say TV networks with scripted TV programming or reality TV. Just follow the money -- consumers' media money.