TV's New Bundle May Already Be Here

TV’s next big bundle might be coming — or is it already in operation?

With streaming platforms continuing their rapid rise, we can assume the three to four streaming apps that consumers use with some regularity might be the base for more. But how many more streamers can the category sustain?

The 1990s version of a cable TV provider — offering 200 or 300 TV networks through pay TV services — now have little prospects in this environment. Currently, there is much aggregation of TV networks content — large and small — through major legacy TV companies' streaming platforms.

For example: NBCUniversal’s Peacock can include NBC Television Network programming as well as programs from over a dozen cable TV networks, such as Bravo, USA Network, CNBC and Oxygen. Discovery+ can also amass shows from Discovery Channel, ID, Animal Planet, Food Network, HGTV and the Cooking Channel.

Perhaps we need a new bundle of say 10 to 15 big company-wide streaming platforms.



A transitional move with Sling TV, YouTube TV, Hulu + Live TV might offer up 50 to 70 channels for consumers — a sizable step down from the traditional pay TV services of 200 to 300 channels. But maybe that's enough.

And what about the niche linear TV networks, and even more micro-targeted video platform and apps that only exist in digital-first spaces? That seems to be the distribution business for Roku, Amazon Fire TV and others  — set-top-box/streaming platforms' purveyors that can offer up to 1,000 or more publishers of all shapes and sizes.

Here’s the good news: Users can subscribe to one, all or none of them. You choose.

The bad news is long-term price hikes. Remember, monthly cable TV bills in the late 1980s could be found for around $16 a month.

All this brings us to back to a growing mid-1990s complaint from TV consumers, lodged in conjunction with growing cable bills on difficult-to-change one- or two-year contracts: The desire for an “a la carte” program selection.

Now there is a different way. Monthly TV viewing might not entail a five-star restaurant bill — at least in the short term. In a couple of years, we may need to go on a diet again.

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