Study: Bundling and Pricing Impacting SVOD Competitive Landscape

New data from Ampere Analysis finds that as SVOD services in the U.S. mature, pricing and bundling are key to subscriber retention.

Newer platforms (including Disney+) tend to have higher levels of both sign-up and churn (subs not renewing) as they rely more heavily on individual title launches, while established platforms’ sign-up and churn rates are much more affected by pricing changes.

Ampere found that bundling is key to help mitigate price sensitivity, with Hulu and Disney+ having both benefitted in terms of sign-up and churn from the strength of the Disney Bundle, which also includes ESPN+.

During the Dec. 19 “Monday Night Football” broadcast on ESPN between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Rams, Disney+ ran an ad touting its ad-supported $9.99 bundle with Hulu. The combo has been in effect since Dec. 8, when Disney+ launched an ad-supported option and ended offering the triple combo plan (with Hulu and ESPN+) with no ads on Disney+.

Combining Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+ has been a successful subscriber growth tool for Disney+, in addition to bundling with Hotstar in India. The latter saw a 42% uptick in subscribers in the most-recent fiscal quarter — double the growth of Disney+ subscribers in North America.

With the average U.S. home subscribing to 4.5 SVOD services, the platform stacking ceiling has almost been reached — thus jumpstarting the need for lower-priced ad-supported subscription tiers.

Hulu’s U.S. sign-up and cancellation rates now mimic those of Disney+, as its users increasingly purchase their subscription through the bundle. Almost one third (32%) of Hulu subscribers have bundled with Disney+, according to Ampere.

Disney+ also uses franchise title releases and its first live broadcast to drive subscriber sign-ups. The first large peak in daily sign-ups seen on Sept. 8, corresponded with Disney+ Day, the annual marketing event that features the release of exclusive premieres and the announcement of upcoming content. This year’s event saw the release of big franchise titles including Thor: Love and Thunder, Pinocchio and Obi-Wan Kenobi: A Jedi’s Return. The next large subscriber growth occurred on Sept. 19, with the premiere of the 31st season of “Dancing With the Stars,” and on Sept. 30, with the release of Hocus Pocus 2.

NRG: 57% of Streaming Video Subscribers Opt for Bundle Deals

In an ironic twist, bundling — the channel-packaging strategy in cable television that many say fueled cord-cutting — is gaining ground in the streaming business, according to new data from the National Research Group (NRG).

NRG says that 51% of consumers say that subscription services make up a significant portion of their monthly expenditures. As inflation increases, people have been forced to make choices about their discretionary spending. That includes cutting back on streaming video subscriptions.

While 66% of survey respondents expect that they will have to make cutbacks to their regular spending due to inflation, only 28% plan to decrease their number of SVOD services over the next six months.

To save money, among consumers with at least one streaming subscription, 57% have opted for bundle deals, including Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, T-Mobile with Netflix, Verizon and Disney+, and Hulu with HBO Max among the most popular packages.

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Among standalone services, NRG found that $10.60 monthly is the maximum amount the average consumer would pay for a streaming service that included ads. Another 53% of respondents said they were willing to accept ads in return for a lower price, while 28% said they would pay more to avoid ads.

Other notable facts included that 24% of respondents admitted to password-sharing or using a streaming service they don’t subscribe to. Another 66% of consumers said it’s hard to keep track of all the streaming services that have launched in the last few years.

And 56% of respondents said they have taken out a subscription planning to cancel before the free trial ended — and 73% of them have been charged because they forgot to do so.

Paramount+, Showtime OTT Bundle Services

Taking a page from the Disney streaming playbook, ViacomCBS Sept. 21 announced it is bundling Paramount+ and Showtime OTT with special introductory prices available for a limited time at both subscription tiers — $9.99 per month for Showtime and the Paramount+ Essential Plan (with ads) and $12.99 per month for Showtime and the Paramount+ Premium Plan (without ads).

The two platforms combined for 42 million subscribers during the most-recent fiscal period.

The ad-supported Essential Plan combines marquee sports, including NFL games and more than 2,000 soccer matches each year, with on-demand entertainment options spanning the full suite of current and upcoming shows and movies, as well as breaking news through CBSN. The Premium Plan features commercial-free, on-demand entertainment with 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision and mobile downloads; an extended roster of must-watch sports; and live streams of local affiliates in over 200 markets across the United States.

“Paramount+ and Showtime are both experiencing tremendous growth and momentum, and we expect this competitively priced bundle to only further expand the reach of both services,” Tom Ryan, CEO of ViacomCBS Streaming, said in a statement.

Showtime, which launched in 1976 as a movie distribution channel along with HBO and Cinemax, continues to make its mark across the cultural landscape with lineups in original television programming, including series “Billions,” “Your Honor,” “The Chi,” “Dexter,” “The L Word: Generation Q,” “City on a Hill,” “Work in Progress,” “Flatbush Misdemeanors”, “American Trust” and “Back to Life,” along with limited series “The Good Love Bird” and “The Comey Rule.”

Unscripted programming includes late-night shows “Desus & Mero” and “Ziwe.” Recent lauded docuseries and documentary films include “Couples Therapy,” “Love Fraud,” “Outcry,” “UFO,” “Kingdom of Silence” and “Belushi,” as well as Emmy-winning news series “Vice,” and political documentary series “The Circus.” Upcoming programming premiering later this year includes “Dexter: New Blood” and “Yellowjackets.” The service provides premium entertainment via 4K, HDR and Dolby Vision and mobile downloads.