Disney+, Netflix Hikes Bring Cost of Cord-Cutter Package to $92
(Bloomberg) -- The financial incentives that have driven millions of Americans to dump cable TV for streaming services are disappearing fast.
With recent price increases at Disney+ and Netflix -- along with the debut of Paramount+ and Discovery+ -- the streaming landscape is evolving quickly. And it’s getting more expensive to assemble a top-notch streaming collection, with the cost rapidly approaching the level of a traditional cable bundle.
If you put together the flagship streaming services from the biggest media and tech companies, including Amazon.com Inc., AT&T Inc., Netflix Inc. and Walt Disney Co., it would now cost you $92 a month in the U.S. That’s almost as much as a typical cable-TV subscription, which S&P Global Market Intelligence puts at $93.50.
That doesn’t include services such as Fox Nation, which is aimed at die-hard Fox News fans, or AMC+, an outlet with movies and “The Walking Dead.” It also assumes you’re willing to pay full freight for Netflix, Comcast Corp.’s Peacock and ViacomCBS Inc.’s Paramount+, rather than the lower-end versions. Many consumers get Amazon’s service when they sign up for Prime shipping benefits, but the video platform on its own costs $9.
Monthly cost in the U.S.
Of course, few viewers want so many streaming services -- and fewer still could watch all that content -- but it shows the dilemma facing TV lovers. While the market is now crowded with quality programming, consumers who cut the cable cord risk building a streaming bundle that eclipses the cost of their old pay-TV bills.
That’s unlikely to drive customers back into the arms of cable-TV providers, but it may send them searching for more budget-friendly options -- like advertising-supported services. AT&T plans to offer a cheaper version of HBO Max with ads in June.
“People are stacking services on top of each other -- at this point, there isn’t any end in sight,” said Steve Nason, research director at Parks Associates, a market-research firm. “It was all about the bundle. Then the unbundling. Now, people are rebundling again, and it’s hitting their wallet directly.”
For now, U.S. consumers seem to be reveling in the choices. A typical streaming household subscribed to about four services as of January, according to Ampere Analysis. That’s up from roughly two in 2017, the firm estimates.
A Parks Associates survey of households last year found that about one-third have four or more, and fewer than a quarter have no streaming subscriptions.
And their bills are going up. Disney+, which amassed 100 million users within 16 months of launching, is raising its price by $1 to $8 a month on Friday. The company’s premiere streaming bundle, which includes ESPN+ and an ad-free version of Hulu, now costs $20.
Netflix, meanwhile, bumped the price of its premium plan, which has higher-resolution video, to $18 from $16 late last year. Its standard offering increased by $1 to $14.
Many of the TV industry’s most-talked-about new shows are appearing exclusively on streaming, such as Disney+’s “The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.” That makes it harder to say no.
Still, a do-it-yourself bundle has some big gaps, for now at least: news and sports.
Media giants are adding more sports to their streaming services, including Peacock, Paramount+, and, of course, Disney’s ESPN+. The companies’ blockbuster deal with the NFL this month involved getting more telecasts online.
But the chance of finding the exact game you want remains low. For that, you may need to either sign up for a live-TV service like YouTube TV or get yourself a digital antenna and go back to watching local broadcast channels.
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