Who Is Offering the Skinny Bundle?

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Throughout the year, there has been a lot of talk about skinny bundles – how various cable operators are experimenting with them, and how viewers are becoming more interested in paying for a package with less channels.

A survey from Digitalsmiths released in June found that customers would prefer 17 channels for $38/month.

But which businesses are currently providing an option like this to consumers? That seems to get lost in the conversation. Right now, there are only two key players. However, other companies are exploring the possibilities.

Dish - Sling TV

It all started back in January. At CES, Dish revealed Sling TV, its $20/month over-the-top (OTT) service. As of now, there are 23 channels available, including A&E, ABC Family, Adult Swim, AMC, Bloomberg, Cartoon Network, CNN, Disney Channel, El Rey, ESPN, ESPN2, Food Network, Galavisión, H2, HGTV, History, IFC, Lifetime, Maker, Polaris+, TBS, TNT and Travel Channel.

“We’re offering the TV millennials want, plus the online videos they watch, all in one platform,” said Sling CEO Roger Lynch.

Verizon Fios – Custom TV

In April, Verizon Fios announced it would be offering standalone genre-inspired bundle options for $55/month. These “channel packs” include groupings like Lifestyle, Entertainment, Sports, Kids, News & Info and Pop Culture, and tend to feature between 10-20 channels a piece. After selecting one channel package, additional packs can be added for another $10/month.

“Customers want choice … I think about millennials and how millennials are viewing video today, for example,” said Verizon Fios president Tami Erwin on CNBC. “I think as you look at the economics of going purely a la carte today, those aren’t good economics for the business, based on how content is sold.”

Approximately 9,000 subscribers signed up for this package in Q2.

Comcast – Stream

At the end of July, Comcast launched OTT service Stream for its Boston customers, with a planned rollout for Seattle and Chicago later in the year.

Stream includes HBO and broadcast networks - “about a dozen” - for $15/month, however it appears to be in early stages still.

“The way we watch TV has become more personal than ever,” writes Comcast Executive Vice President and General Manager, Video Services Matt Strauss in a blog post. “I like to watch live on the big screen in my living room. My kids, on the other hand, prefer to catch up with their favorite shows on their laptops, on demand … our goal [is] to provide TV choices for everyone.”


Charter CEO Tom Rutledge is contemplating a skinny bundle, but nothing has happened yet.
When questioned on the distribution model during an early August conference call with analysts, he didn’t feel it was an immediate focus.

“We have to take it in big packages,” said Rutledge. “And as I said earlier, it was a very good model. It's peaked, and it's -- but it's difficult to make it get better, and so there's a lot of pressure in the system. My sense is that it isn't all about to fall apart, and that we'll be having this conversation three years from now, because I think there's nothing to incent anyone to pull it apart.

It’s an interesting change from his remarks in a May conference call, when Rutledge stated “Would I be rather be able to sell lots of smaller tiers? Yes, I would.”


Apple has declined to make official statements on the content for its alleged streaming television service, believed to be launching in 2016.

Previous reports have suggested this package will include 25 channels for around $30-40/month, but nothing is for certain at this time.

At the beginning of the month, Lionsgate CEO Jon Feltheimer told investors that he didn't see the skinny bundle as a threat to business.

"Whether there's a fat bundle, skinny bundle or no bundle at all, … we are well positioned to beat this challenge," Feltheimer said.

Given all of this movement, perhaps it shouldn't be seen as a "challenge."

Author: Brian Cameron

Image via Shutterstock.
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