Wolk's Week in Review: Consumers Want Bundles, The Grammys Tank Again

Wolk's Week In Review

1. Consumers Want Bundles

It should not be all that surprising that a recent Nielsen survey revealed that almost two-thirds (64%) of respondents wanted to have some sort of bundle for their streaming services, even if that meant giving up the month-to-month subscription option.

While the idea of managing all those subscriptions and dipping in and out on a monthly basis sounds great on paper, in reality it winds up being anything from a major stress inducer to a minor annoyance to viewers who are used to their cable bill being something they did not have to give much thought to.

With the increasing number of new niche services like CNN+ cropping up, it’s likely that the desire to bundle will only increase.

Why It Matters

Many observers recoil in horror at the notion of any sort of rebundling. They remain steadfast in believing that the à la carte system of monthly subscriptions is the best thing to ever happen to TV, that it gives consumers the control they need and keeps the various services honest and prevents them from taking advantage of customers locked into multiyear contracts.

Yes, but…

One person’s freedom is another person’s shackles. Rather than feel liberated, too many consumers feel trapped in an endless cycle of trying to keep up with their ever burgeoning list of subscriptions. They crave the simplicity of a single bill from a single provider and are happy to lock into a year-long contract if it means they can save some money on their bills. (The necessity of saving even small amounts of money each month being a notion lost on many Wall Street types.)

There’s been much counter-chatter about the upcoming Great Rebundling for a while now and it seems likely it will come to pass sooner than later—the various network groups are already bundling all their options together.

The most likely candidate for rebundling would be the MVPDs, who can bundle broadband with various combinations of Flixes at various price points to create stickiness for their broadband. (Which, if you recall, is where they make all their money.)

The smart TV OEMs (plus Roku and Amazon) would be another likely group of candidates—rather than just letting customers sign up for individual services as part of a Channel Store function, they can actually help drive subscriptions by bundling them together.

Sky UK’s new Sky Glass offer, where subscribers lease their smart TV (and the content bundle on it) for a four year contract is another potential roadmap. Given the steadily dropping price of TVs in the U.S., it is not difficult to see any of the major OEMs rolling out something similar that bundles content with a brand new TV set.

Ditto Comcast, which not only owns Sky (and thus presumably had a hand in creating the Sky Glass offer) but now makes its own Comcast-branded smart TVs.

A final option is independent third-party services like Paket Media and MyBundle that can help consumers navigate the ever growing mass of content and create bundle offers for them. 

What You Need To Do About It

If you’re a smaller streaming service (and by “smaller” I mean anyone other than Netflix, Disney and DiscoWarner) take a look at the advantages of bundling. Consumers are clearly feeling the love and year-long contracts are a great way to keep those advertising numbers steady at a time of constant churn.

If you’re one of the potential bundlers, don’t be afraid to get creative: add in different types of monthly subscriptions—music services, websites, mobile apps. It’s all fair game and it can help set your bundle apart.

If you’re a consumer, don’t despair—help is on the way!


2. The Grammys Tank Again

Whatever hopes the Awards Industrial Complex had that the surprisingly high Oscars ratings were the harbinger of a trend towards renewed relevance were dashed this week when ratings for the Grammys tanked as badly as they did last year. Just 8.93 million people tuned in, down from a high of 19.9 million in 2019.

Though that may have more to do with the nature of the music business than with the appeal of awards shows on TV.

Why It Matters

The Grammys are aimed at a much younger demo than the Oscars or the Emmys, let alone the Tonys. That demo is not spending a whole lot of time on linear TV these days, and while the Grammys were also simulcast (simulstreamed?) on Paramount+, that’s a subscription service and it’s unlikely many 20somethings were signing up just to watch the Grammys.

The music business is also far more siloed than TV. Services like SiriusXM along with Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music mean that listeners rarely have to leave their comfort zone. Which leaves us with fewer people who have much interest in what wins in categories outside their bubble. Or have even heard of those nominees, for that matter.

You’ve also got the MTV Video Music Awards as competition, which, while not nearly as successful ratings-wise as the Grammys (2.4 million viewers in 2021) generates a whole lot of social media buzz.

That said, if I were the Emmys or the Oscars, I’d be plenty worried.

The Grammys are a well-produced show with lots of big name performers and no one on Zoom. But given that the splintering of the music industry seems to be the culprit, television and even the movies are not far behind.

There is already much grumbling about how all the Emmy nominations go to the sort of streaming hits that appeal to a limited (read: educated, affluent, coastal) audience and that massive hits like Spiderman are left out of the Oscars. 

So it would not be surprising if audiences for those shows soon started to become as disinterested as the Grammys audience, unconcerned about categories and awards in areas outside their bubbles.

What You Need To Do About It

If you are the Television Academy and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, then you need to decide what the raison d’etre for your awards shows are, or, to be more blunt, whether “best” also means “appeals to a large number of people all across the country, and not just that educated, affluent coastal elite.”

If you’ve been pointing to the rebound in Super Bowl and Oscar numbers as proof that tentpole events will revive live TV, maybe you were too soon to celebrate. Awards shows need to adapt to the changing media landscape if they are to remain relevant.

Whether that happens is up to the organizations that run them.

Alan Wolk is co-founder and lead analyst at the consulting firm TV[R]EV. He is the author of the best-selling industry primer, Over The Top: How The Internet Is (Slowly But Surely) Changing The Television Industry. Wolk frequently speaks about changes in the television industry, both at conferences and to anyone who’ll listen.

Wolk's Week in Review is an opinion column. It does not necessarily represent the opinions of Fierce Video.