Tag Archives: Bundling

The bundling and unbundling of media

In a recent talk and interview at the Code Media conference, Stratechery‘s Ben Thompson shared his analysis and thoughts on the bundling and unbundling of text, audio, and video content.

I strongly recommend subscribing to Stratechery to access Ben’s insightful analysis of the strategic moves made by large tech companies. At $10 per month or $100 per year, the 4 article-per-week subscription is great value-for-money.

You can watch Ben’s talk and interview below.

From TV bundles to online bundles

I was looking over my monthly TV bill recently. I’m a Digiturk subscriber. Digiturk is the leading satellite TV provider in Turkey, offering a combination of cable channels as well as its own thematic channels in categories like sports, movies, and documentaries.

For example, Digiturk has the rights to broadcast the games of the Turkish Super League, the country’s soccer league. It also has the rights to broadcast the games of the Turkish basketball league as well as first division soccer games in countries including England, Spain, Italy, and France. The latter is offered to subscribers under the Sports Extra package.

In addition to my regular Digiturk membership, I’m also signed up for the Turkish Super League package and the Sports Extra package. Regular Digiturk membership costs 20 TL (~$7) per month, while the Turkish Super League package and Sports Extra package cost 58 TL (~$20) and 17 TL (~$6) per month respectively. So, of my total 95 TL (~$33) bill, I pay ~80% for sports content.

What’s more, the only reason I pay for regular Digiturk membership is because it’s required in order to be able to access the sports content. I draw much less than 20% of my subscription’s value from the non-sports content. The actual value is pretty close to zero. So if there was an alternative way to only pay for and access the sports content at the same level of quality as what’s available on TV, that’s what I would do.

There actually is a way to only pay for and access the Turkish Super League content. It’s an online service called Digiturk Play. Digiturk Play offers standard quality streaming of Turkish Super League games at a cost of 339 TL (~$120) for an annual subscription, or 28 TL (~$10) per month. It also offers high quality streaming at a cost of 519 TL (~$180) per year, or 43 TL (~$15) per month.

The standard quality streaming falls well short of what you get on TV. The high quality streaming is better, but it’s still not good enough for me to subscribe to it over my current TV subscription. The 20 TL regular Digiturk TV membership + 58 TL Turkish Super League TV package – 43 TL Turkish Super League Digiturk Play package  = 35 TL (~$12) per month that I would save doing so isn’t worth the more pixellated display and sometimes interrupted live streaming experience offered by the online option.

But the online option will improve. As internet bandwidths rise, live streaming video quality improves and interruptions fall. Eventually, live online streaming will offer the same quality as TV without needing to subscribe for content bundles you don’t want. So you won’t have to pay for unwanted content.

At least that’s what should happen in theory. But when online content streaming becomes the mainstream norm, rather than the exception, what’s going to happen to the unwanted content? Chances are that it isn’t going to go away. Instead, it’s going to once again be bundled with the content you want. As long as a single provider has the rights to wanted content, it knows that using unwanted content to justify charging a few more dollars per customer brings in more in margin than it concedes in volume.

As a result, TV bundles aren’t going to give way to a la carte online content streaming but to online bundles.