The vMVPD (virtual multichannel video programming distributor) – commonly known as Over the Top streaming – space has become quite crowded in recent years, whether it be Hulu with Live TV, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, DirecTV Now or all the other options out there. Truthfully speaking, the market is quite saturated, and according to fuboTV’s CEO and co-founder David Gandler has made a very strong claim for the upcoming year: “one or two vMVPDs could be going away in 2019.”
Speaking with Multichannel News on Friday, Gandler stated that he “wouldn’t be surprised” if we see at least one of the significant vMVPDs shut down in 2019. One of the major points that the sports-centric streaming service’s CEO made to MCN was about making money in this space:
“If you can’t figure out how to make money on this, why would you do it? I think you’re going to see people saying, ‘Either I missed something, or we’re not executing.’ I would anticipate that there will be companies that will have to rethink their strategy.”
This comment has some form of relevance, AT&T announced earlier in the week that they would be looking to “thin the content out” on the DirecTV NOW bundle and get the content that’s truly relevant to consumers. AT&T’s television services hemorrhaged about 300 thousand subscribers, and they’re looking to “reset their prices to around $50-$60.” The decision stems from the need to be profitable in the face of tepid subscriber growth – only gaining 30 thousand subscribers in Q3 of 2018. A lot of this could be attributed to their introductory deal that ended this past Summer, where new subscribers to DirecTV now received a free Roku Streaming Stick after pre-paying for one month of service or a free Apple TV 4K for three months of service. It isn’t unreasonable to state that consumers were subscribing and leaving after getting their devices, essentially receiving a discounted Roku or Apple TV with one to three months of free television. It also didn’t help things when DirecTV Now bundles saw a $5 increase in the Summer as well, bring its ‘Live a Little’ package from $35 to $40.
In other OTT news, YouTube TV – for a limited time – is offering a two week free trial for new subscribers, and Discovery Networks just inked new distribution deals with Dish’s Sling TV and Hulu. The Discovery Networks deal with Sling and Hulu is projected to add 4 million new subscribers, with CEO David Zazlav making the case for being on ‘skinny bundles’ and OTT platforms:
When we’re on skinnier bundles or over-the-top platforms, we tend to do a lot better. We see that everywhere in the world.