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Streaming’s Battle of the Bundles Era Begins (Published Quote)

Paramount+’s team-up with Walmart accelerates the race for platforms to seek out partners to make the most compelling pitch to consumers with a limited budget. Disney could make the next big move.

By Alex Weprin

The rise of subscription streaming services was supposed to mark the end of the bundle — the pay TV bundle at least. But now that every major entertainment company has a couple of years in the streaming game under their belts, it has increasingly become a battle of the bundles, with each service seeking out its own unique value proposition or partner to make the most compelling pitch to consumers with a limited streaming budget.

The latest salvo was launched by Walmart, run by CEO Doug McMillon, which revealed a new perk on Aug. 15 for its Walmart+ members: a complimentary subscription to Paramount+. The service (think of it as Walmart’s take on Amazon Prime) bundles free shipping and local delivery as well as gas discounts and other perks for $13 a month, or $98 a year. Now, it will throw in Paramount+ (normally $5 a month) for no extra cost. Walmart+ currently counts more than 11 million members, compared with Amazon Prime’s more than 200 million members.

“After having divested Vudu [to Comcast] only a few years ago, it’s interesting to see Walmart’s partnership with Paramount+ show just how effective streaming bundles can be for both traditional streaming platforms and nontraditional content players,” says Dan Goman, CEO of video tech firm Ateliere. “I anticipate more partnerships with this type of framework into the near future as the volume of streaming activity continues to grow.”

But the Paramount+/Walmart deal is just one of many pacts streamers are making to juice their numbers, or to otherwise entice potential subscribers. In fact, it’s not even Paramount’s only offer. Paramount already bundles Paramount+ and Showtime, and on Aug. 31 revamped that bundle to bring Showtime shows to the Paramount+ app for a promotional price of $7.99 a month.

Among entertainment companies, however, none is more bundle-happy than Disney. When the company launched Disney+ ($8 a month) in November 2019, it partnered with Verizon to give a year’s subscription to many of the telecom giant’s customers. Neither company disclosed exactly how many Verizon users took advantage of the deal, but it is widely assumed by Wall Street analysts to have contributed millions of subscribers.

Since then, Disney has launched its own bundle (The Disney Bundle, $14 a month) of Disney+, Hulu and ESPN+, and Verizon now offers certain subscribers a six-month trial of that more expensive offering. But it hasn’t stopped there. Disney has since expanded its bundle offers, including a partnership with its National Geographic division that bundles Disney+ and Nat Geo’s century-old magazine, and struck a deal with Uber to offer its users two free months of Disney+ (Disney+ subs in turn got six months of Uber One, that company’s loyalty program).

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