Media Companies Up Third-Party Streaming Bundles to Reduce Churn, Differentiate Product

The just-announced partnership between Lionsgate’s Starz streaming platform and Amazon’s MGM+ service is the latest pact between media competitors looking to jumpstart subscriber acquisitions and profiles and reduce churn.

Last year, Comcast-owned U.K. satellite TV operator Sky and Paramount’s Showtime Network partnered for a branded SkyShowtime streaming service in Europe offering more than 10,000 hours of content from Paramount+, Showtime Anytime and NBCUniversal’s Peacock service.

“This partnership provides an innovative approach to quickly scale internationally and monetize content across Europe,” Dana Strong, Sky Group CEO, said in a statement at launch.

Disney set the SVOD bundle benchmark in 2020 combining Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu — in a strategy that has helped Disney surpass Netflix with the most SVOD subscribers worldwide at 234.7 million.

Charter Communications and Comcast partnered to re-invent the Xumo free ad-supported streaming platform into to make it easier for consumers to find streaming proprietary and third-party content through an enhanced user interface and voice search.

“The new Xumo will bring [together] streaming and aggregation technology nationwide through its expanding content, product line up, and retailer relationships,” said platform president Marcien Jenckes.

With SVOD subscriptions in the United States projected to top 182 million this year, and reaching almost 203 million by 2027 (in a country with 333 million people), according to Statista, the battle for incremental subscriber/revenue growth is raging.

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In a recent media trends report, consultant Deloitte suggested that upwards of 150 million SVOD accounts will be canceled globally as consumers deal with inflationary costs and services such as Netflix cracking down on password sharing between subscribers and non-subscribers.

Bundling services enables consumers to save money while expanding their content reach.

“If I have five different types of entertainment that I am getting through one bundle, it’s a lot harder for me to cancel,” Kevin Westcott, vice chairman at TMT national industry leader at Deloitte, told Marketing Brew. “It might feel like I’ve watched the shows I want to watch on the streaming side, but I really like my gaming subscription or I really enjoy the music streaming subscription that I listen to every day. That makes it harder to leave.”

For Lionsgate, expanding Starz’s footprint is also part of a strategy to spin-off the streaming component it acquired along with the pay-TV brand for $4.4 billion in 2016.

When asked last year about Starz’s future, with original content that includes “Outlander,” “Power,” “P-Valley,” “Hightown,” “Heels,” “Blindspotting” and “Run the World,” among others, CEO Jeffrey Hirsch said the platform requires scale to remain competitive.

“Do I believe we can continue to be successful at the size we are, [of course], but it’s a tough environment out there,” Hirsch told a Wall Street group in 2021. “You won’t see us fighting with Rokus or the Amazons because we’re not trying to control the consumer, to ultimately control the data, to control the ad load, and be an AVOD service.”

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