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The bundle is back: Why Netflix, Max, Disney, and others are teaming up

The bundle is back.

The streaming wars have reached a fever pitch with more ads, higher prices, and greater competition as platforms scramble to reach profitability and capture paying users.

With so many choices now available to consumers, the media landscape seems to be reverting to the cable TV bundle of years past — the very thing that streaming set out to undo.

On Monday, telecom giant Verizon (VZ) announced it will offer a $10 bundle for the ad-supported plans of both Netflix (NFLX) and Warner Bros. Discovery's Max (WBD) streaming services, yielding more than 40% in savings.

The offer, available for Verizon's myPlan customers, will begin on Thursday. The company will also offer an additional bundle that combines the ad-free Disney+ plan along with the ad-supported tiers of Hulu, ESPN+, Netflix, and Max for $20 a month.

Verizon CEO Hans Vestberg said at a UBS media conference on Monday that bundling is driving more customer retention, crediting "the optionality and the flexibility" of the trend coupled with its savings for consumers.

"Netflix and Max [are] just boosting up the momentum we have in the quarter — we feel good," he said, adding the company will work to form new bundles in the future.

The news comes after The Wall Street Journal reported Friday that Paramount Global (PARA) and Apple (AAPL) are in early-stage talks to bundle their streaming services at a discount. Paramount declined to comment while Apple did not respond to Yahoo Finance's request.

'Consumers are looking for these types of bundles'

On Monday, telecom giant Verizon announced it will offer a $10 bundle for the ad-supported plans of both Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery's Max streaming services, yielding more than 40% in savings.
On Monday, telecom giant Verizon announced it will offer a $10 bundle for the ad-supported plans of both Netflix and Warner Bros. Discovery's Max streaming services, yielding more than 40% in savings. (Getty Images) (Ajax9 via Getty Images)

The concept of bundling isn't new. Companies in the space have recently been doing it with their own services. Apple for instance offers Apple One, which combines Apple TV+ with other services like Apple Music and Apple Arcade. The bundle launched globally in late 2020.

On Wednesday, Disney, which also has been offering a bundle with Disney+, Hulu, and ESPN+, officially began its domestic rollout of a one-app experience that incorporates Hulu content via Disney+ — a similar play to Paramount's Showtime combination as well as the integration of HBO Max and Discovery+, which both merged their respective services earlier this year.

There have also been third-party bundles, with the ad-supported Paramount+ plan automatically offered to Walmart+ members. Meanwhile, customers of Instacart+ receive Peacock's ad-supported plan at no additional cost. Paramount also struck a partnership with Delta earlier this year.

"Everybody's trying to come up with something proprietary," Mark Boidman, partner and global head of media at Solomon Partners, told Yahoo Finance of the bundle. "When you can bundle something together at an attractive price in the minds of consumers then that makes sense."

Yet the trend of distribution players partnering with content operators on bundles "is definitely a difference compared to what we've seen," Boidman said, predicting consumers will likely notice more telecom giants like Verizon and cable companies partnering with content services in the future.

"All of these companies need to work together to create stickiness amongst their consumers," he said. "When cable companies lose subscribers, tons of money falls away from their market cap."

Bundles can be a way to avoid that by boosting subscriber growth — especially as users search for an attractive and flexible deal.

"Consumers are looking for these types of bundles," he said. "The fact that Netflix is not the same company as Warner Bros. is interesting, but that doesn't surprise us because people want to see things packaged together."

Even traditional linear bundles have begun to incorporate streaming services with Charter's historic agreement with Disney serving as a "first mover" for similar deals to come.

Charter will offer some Disney streaming services — the ad-supported version of Disney+, ESPN+, and ESPN's yet-to-be-launched direct-to-consumer offering — as part of select cable packages at no additional cost to the consumer.

Marc DeBevoise, who helped launch CBS All Access and now serves as CEO of streaming tech company Brightcove, emphasized the benefits of optionality within the bundle.

"[Streamers] are going to give consumers a lot of different choices over the next few years," he told Yahoo Finance Live. "They are certainly looking at bundling as a way to reduce churn or a way to impact how they can retain those customers over the long term."

He predicted the consumer will eventually be able to create their own bundle; however, he also warned it's a double-edged sword for media companies still searching for streaming profitability.

"At the end of the day, the services are going to need to find a way to be more efficient with the spend that they're doing," DeBevoise cautioned, explaining average revenue per user, or ARPU, will likely tick down given the bundles' cheaper, promotional-driven pricing.

As streamers attempt to tackle profitability, experts say bundling may be a first step of eventual M&A in the space.

"It's definitely a signal of what we would hope will come in the future of seeing M&A," Boidman said. "The model hasn't been proven yet, with the exception of Netflix, so until all of these streaming networks can prove the value that they can create, we're going to see a lot of companies coming together."

Alexandra Canal is a Senior Reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter @allie_canal, LinkedIn, and email her at

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