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The real news about Disney+ is the bundle

So Disney have finally revealed more details about their upcoming subscription offer, Disney+. Not surprisingly, given the strength of Disney’s assets and brands, it’s going to be a very strong contender that will give everyone else a serious run for their money.

Whether or not the service makes it in the long run (and I personally think it will), Disney+ will help shape and define the digital subscription market across the board given how significant it is because it’s Disney and their unrivalled content.

The most critical factors that will determine its chances include, obviously, exclusive content and pricing. From what’s been announced so far Disney are clearly taking this very seriously. Pricing is very competitive and there’s going to be lots of new and archival content only available on the service. So far so positive for Disney.

But what I found particularly interesting was Disney’s confirmation that it will ‘likely’ bundle all of its digital services - Disney+, ESPN+ and Hulu - into one package.

So far the features and content of Disney+ have been largely a (very strong) catch up to the existing leaders in this area - ie Netflix and Amazon Prime. A competitive price, lots of stuff to watch on demand, some of it exclusively so. You know the drill.

But all the other players in this space have taken the same approach of having everything under one roof, one brand. Disney’s three different brands however are largely aimed at different audiences - there is some overlap between Disney+ and Hulu but as a sports platform ESPN+ is completely distinct. By bundling these together into one payment Disney are breaking new ground in the digital subscription market.

Bundling is where the highest profits have historically been found in media. From music albums that bundle 10 or so tracks to cable and satellite subscriptions that bundle a multitude of channels, more content for consumers in one package means a higher price and bumper profits.

I’ve long been convinced that the current situation of the big platforms having everything under one roof is only a stepping stone. It works fine as consumers enter the digital subscription market for the first time, but as competition hots up for their time and money, specialisation and bundling will inevitably become more prominent.

Disney are (potentially) making the first really significant step in driving this and reshaping the digital subscription market by bundling entertainment and sports. Continuing to deliver value to consumers will likely require both more specialisation and more variety. They’re starting with film/TV and sport. What’s next? More specialised channels? Music? This is only the start.

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