Change comes slowly, and then all at once. And it’s coming now to the pay-TV business.
For years — even as technology-driven disruption ravaged the music, publishing, and other media industries — the traditional pay-TV bundle largely held together despite a trickling away of subscribers to cord-cutting.
A big reason it hasn’t fallen apart until now is that programmers and operators shared in interest in keeping it together, even as they regularly clashed over carriage renewals. For programmers, bundling channels into a single carriage deal brings in incremental affiliate fees and increases advertising inventory; for operators, the big bundle helps sustain high ARPU rates and long-term subscriber contracts. Neither side had an incentive to fundamentally alter the structure of the business.
Even the emergence of over-the-top “skinny” bundles proved less disruptive than many expected as programmers successfully pushed OTT providers to fatten up their skinny offerings and raise prices to levels nearly comparable to traditional pay-TV subscriptions.
But the trickle of cord-cutting has now become a flood. And as the water rises programmers and operators have begun to turn on each other in earnest. Read More »