More Bundles? Consumer Confusion Or Comparison Shopping Delight?

Amid a confluence of sometimes confusing pay TV bundles, Charter Communications' Spectrum Stream comes along -- a no-sports 90-channel internet-delivered entertainment package for $39.99.

On the surface, this Charter move is not all that surprising.

Remember that traditional pay TV distribution company Dish Network was the first to start up an internet-delivered linear TV pay TV bundle nine years ago, with Sling TV. Its basic package was also discounted service ($20), also sans sports channel (which could be added on).

Sling was the first of many virtual multichannel video program distributors (vMVPD). Coming online soon after Hulu+Live TV, YouTube TV, fuboTV,.



But Charter's recent move may mean a bit more -- especially coming off its industry-shaking deal with Walt Disney just months ago. 

That deal, which could be viewed as a "deal with the devil of sorts" according to analysts, allows Charter to now make profits/business from the retail selling of Disney's streaming channels.

These include Disney+, Hulu, ESPN+ and the upcoming full-fledged ESPN network as a streaming channel -- a package amid its pay TV packages.

And guess what? Charter has chosen to include The Disney Channel, National Geographic, and FX as three of its 90 Spectrum Stream networks, but no sports or Disney streaming platforms.

At the same time as the Spectrum Stream news, Charter also announced another vMVPD service -- Spectrum Stream Latino, a package of 45 Spanish-language channels, including Bandamax, BeIN Sports en Español, Discovery en Español, Galavisión, Telemundo, TUDN, UniMás and Univision, for $24.99.

Under the new, more modern TV/streaming bundle, Charter will expand its differentiated packages -- small, large, with sports channels and without, as well as companion streaming platforms.

This is all to revive its video distribution business, which has taken sort of a back seat to its more lucrative broadband business. 

All this competes theoretically, in an expanding digital world where Roku and Amazon reside.

But now it becomes complicated -- for consumers and also marketers alike.

It was only a few years ago with the rise of streaming platforms that legacy TV media companies started up business divisions with the moniker "direct to consumer."

So now there are still more old-school "indirect to consumer" innovations as well.

This is not the only area to focus on. Think ad sales.

Recently. Disney Advertising made a deal to expand its Disney Real-Time Ad Exchange (DRAX) programmatic sales for its TV-based program content.

Now -- for some of that program content (Disney did not reveal specifics), demand-side ad platform The Trade Desk -- as well as Google's formidable Display & Video 360 platform -- will get to sell that content.

Traditional business ties and boundaries are being cut and open all over the place. What's next? 

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