Apple, Paramount mull streaming bundle – report

Apple and Paramount are reported to be in early talks to bundle their respective Apple TV+ and Paramount+ streaming services at a discounted price, according to a new report Friday by The Wall Street Journal.

Citing people familiar with discussions, the WSJ said the streamers have discussed pairing the two services at a discounted price compared to the cost for subscribing to both separately, although talks are early and what a bundle could ultimately look like is unclear.

Apple and Paramount did not respond to inquiries from StreamTV Insider.

It’s the latest news of potential bundles between streaming services, which is a strategic avenue more players have been eyeing as they look for new ways to acquire and retain subscribers. Lower prices could also be attractive to consumers as many streaming services, including Apple and Paramount, have raised prices recently – as media companies shift their attention towards streaming profitability.

StreamTV Insider has previously reported on the potential for bundles as a strategic move for streamers, with Circana VP and Industry Advisor John Buffone citing reductions in churn and customer acquisition as the primary goals for competing streaming services to potentially participate in a bundle.  In July he pegged an upcoming period of product packaging experimentation as a key theme for the industry, as streamers test what pairings are most effective.

Churn in particular is a concern for streaming services, which are easy for consumers to jump in and out of, with the practice of cycling between various services not uncommon. Recent data from Antenna found one-third of SVOD signups as of Q1 come from “serial churners” – or those who had canceled a premium streaming service three or more times in the previous two years – compared to just 10% in 2019.

Indeed streaming services have already started exploring, with various types of bundles taking shape. Just this week NBCUniversal announced its Peacock streaming service would be available to all Instacart+ members in the U.S. at no additional cost. And Paramount in particular is no stranger to bundling with different partners. Last year it teamed with Walmart to include Paramount+ as part of Walmart+ membership perks. In January it partnered with Delta to give members of the airline’s loyalty program free access to Paramount+ in-flight on domestic routes.

On the company’s second quarter earnings call Paramount CEO Bob Bakish pegged bundling as a growing part of its streaming strategy.

“Bundling has been one of the tried and true methods of value creation in media,” he said in August.

That might also mean striking deals with cable operators or telcos, which in part can offer access to their large customer bases as well as marketing budgets. This was seen in a recent carriage deal between Charter and Disney, which included the ad-supported Disney+, ESPN+ and a forthcoming DTC ESPN service in certain Charter Spectrum TV packages. The cable operator also markets Disney’s apps to its broadband-only customers as part of the deal.

Bakish during third quarter earnings in November was positive on the benefits of these so-called “hard bundles.” It’s a model Paramount has already pursued with partners in international markets and one he suggested would provide similar favorable benefits in the U.S., primarily in terms of growing subscribers, lowering subscriber acquisition costs and reducing churn.

And company MyBundle has been working to serve as a link between streaming services and its collection of smaller broadband service provider partners to help the latter offer streaming bundles to their customers as they pivot away from traditional video or look for alternative ways to provide TV options to broadband subscribers.

Verizon, meanwhile, is a telco that’s offering subscription bundles through its +play subscription aggregation platform, which is available to mobile and wireless home internet customers. In June it already offered Netflix and Paramount+ with Showtime together at a discounted price of $26 per month.  Last month The Wall Street Journal reported that Verizon would bundle the ad-supported tiers of Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery’s Max for a discounted price, offered to Verizon’s myPlan wireless customers.

Earlier this year WBD CEO David Zaslav also pointed to the potential for bundling top streaming services.

“For me, it seems very clear that if we were to package this great product that we have with others, if you were to wake up tomorrow and in each market the number one, two, or three products for a specific price, it would probably reduce churn. If we don’t do it ourselves, I think it’ll be done for us,” Zaslav said in May