MyBundle.TV has notched a customer milestone, reaching the 150 mark for broadband service provider (BSP) partners utilizing its live streaming TV service aggregation tools, which are now available to over 10 million household subscribers in the U.S.
The customer achievement comes on the heels of MyBundle inking deals with the NCTC and NRTC in 2022. Over the past year MyBundle marked continued progress: the company ended 2021 with 65 customers, climbing to 117 by October, and finishing 2022 with 140 BSP partners. And while agreements with NCTC and NRTC have helped propel traction, company co-founder and CEO Jason Cohen told Fierce the growth isn’t strictly from opening up its services to those industry groups.
In an interview with Fierce Video, Cohen suggested growth at MyBundle is somewhat of a thermometer of larger industry trends in terms of how the broadband and cable industry are now thinking of video compared to the past. MyBundle is working to serve internet providers with options for video as many focus attention on higher margin broadband businesses alongside continued pay TV industry declines.
As companies evaluate what it means to be a broadband or cable provider in 2023 and beyond, MyBundle is “definitely benefiting from that trend,” Cohen said.
The company is still working to get its name out there but MyBundle sees its tools as a solution for BSPs pursuing a variety of business models including broadband-only companies that have never offered video services; those that want to get out of the traditional pay TV business; or providers who want to offer complements to their traditional TV packages to help with retention as streaming continues to gain viewership. It’s also making a name for itself in the market against the backdrop of investment and funding (including from private-equity and federal programs) for fiber builds and broadband, where BSPs are building out networks and want to both attract and keep customers to fill those high-speed networks.
Alongside its BSP customers, MyBundle now has 150 streaming services integrated into its tools, which help customers find, compare and subscribe to live streaming TV and on-demand services through their provider based on recommendations and channel preferences.
Last year Sling TV was the first virtual MVPD to integrate billing features from MyBundle, while Frontier tapped the company as a value add – giving customers a quick survey to find cable-free TV options based on channels they want.
As its customer count grows MyBundle has seen an acceleration from those that historically offered video but are now looking for alternatives, according to Cohen.
“We’re definitely seeing…a pick up in those who traditionally have had video, or have video” that are looking for different options, he said, noting sometimes that means in addition to the video services they currently offer.
For example, the company saw traction after typical price hikes in January related to content costs, where providers have to pass higher rates for programming onto consumers.
“We’re having guys come back to us, who a year ago said ‘seems interesting but we’re not interested, we’re in the TV business’,” but now want to find ways to keep customers and help them save money with a TV option as pay TV providers face increased programming costs.
Cohen pointed to MyBundle’s customized online CSR (customer service representative) tools as one way it’s helped providers. If the ISP’s customer calls in upset over price hikes, agents can easily help them find a personalized streaming TV alternative.
“For a broadband cable provider, they don’t want to lose that broadband customer, and so if that person is seeing a cheaper offer elsewhere – even if it’s a teaser offer – by being able to save them money” it helps preserve the relationship, he explained.
Cohen noted the BSP is giving up TV revenue by recommending another streaming service “but if that save the broadband customer, they’ll do that every day. So we’re seeing an increase in that.”
There has also been an uptick in interest from those leaving the TV business altogether.
For example, one BSP was sunsetting video services and brought MyBundle on to help make the transition easy for customers. Cohen described how a customer of the broadband provider was an older woman living on a fixed income in Tennessee who was wondering what it meant for her TV options. Using the MyBundle tool she was able to narrow in on the channels she wanted, and Frndly TV in this case popped up as the solution – bringing her TV price down to just $7 per month.
Meanwhile, fiber to the home or broadband-only providers that are looking for returns on investments of buildouts, are “seeing real customer acquisition” from MyBundle, according to Cohen, without disclosing more specifics. As broadband-only is competing in some areas with traditional pay TV and internet providers, it gives them a way to also offer a TV option. Cohen said people use the find MyBundle tool to get their live TV streaming recommendation and then became internet customers, “so a really, really big return on that.”
+Play for everyone else
MyBundle isn’t the only company in the industry looking to play an aggregator role. Comcast and Charter formed a streaming joint venture called Xumo to develop and license platforms and hardware including smart TVs using a single global interface. Verizon, meanwhile, debuted its +play subscription aggregation service that allows Verizon customers to centrally find, sign up for and manage subscriptions across a variety of streaming services.
While Charter, Comcast and Verizon all have large footprints, Cohen noted there are around 3,000 smaller internet and broadband providers across the U.S. – which is where MyBundle comes in.
Rather than competition, Cohen said +Play being out there is very helpful in terms of serving as an example in explaining to the market what MyBundle is working to build.
“+play is Verizon and we’re building that for the rest of the broadband and cable industry,” he said, while also pointing to Xumo’s plan for a single interface.
He doesn’t see it cutting into MyBundle’s efforts because for those providers without national scale, going it alone to strike agreements and aggregate the vast array of streaming options is not a very viable route.
“What does make sense is someone to aggregate and bring that together” so providers and services themselves don’t have to deal with individual deals and integrations that MyBundle handles.
Revamped Streaming Choice
MyBundle’s also recently revamped its former Streaming Rewards offer, rebranding it to Streaming Choice.
This is an option for providers to bundle or give away streaming services as they look to reel in and keep customers. For example, Cohen said one partner is bundling streaming credits with their broadband service; another is offering streaming services when someone signs up as a new broadband customer; one provider is giving streaming credits as an apology for service issues; while a bunch are offering a free year of a streaming service when customers upgrade to a higher speed tier.
Cohen said he’s excited for what’s to come for Streaming Choice, citing “a lot of enthusiasm from the broadband industry” which sees value in bundling. MyBundle is “prepared to step on the gas” for that effort this year, he added.
Looking ahead through 2023, MyBundle's key focuses include continuing to grow its broadband partner count and offering more Streaming Choice options. Another priority, Cohen said, is completing more subscription management and billing integration deals with streaming services. The company already has “a nice pipeline early in the year,” he noted, and is having good conversations with streaming services, made easier by increasing its pool of broadband partners.
The recent customer milestone helps fuel MyBundle's mission of being a central aggregator in a three-sided marketplace of broadband providers, streaming services and consumers. It pools streaming service subscriptions for BSPs looking to offer TV options – while also pooling its broadband customer base for streaming services that want to reach more users. Cohen has previously explained how reaching agreements with individual streaming services or individual BSPs is too much of an undertaking for either side to pursue alone, whereas for MyBundle growing each side of the relationships helps further fuel the other.
As MyBundle signs on more streaming services the tools become more attractive to broadband providers, and in turn as it signs up more BSPs, streaming services are more interested in integrating with the platform – ultimately driving more choice, interest and satisfaction for consumers themselves.
“We’ve got the flywheel spinning,” said Cohen of reaching 150 BSP partners, but added it’s by no means mission accomplished just yet.