Viacom CEO says $10-$20 entertainment channel bundle coming this year

Viacom_CREDIT_André-Pierre du Plessis-Flickr
(André-Pierre du Plessis/Flickr)

Viacom CEO Bob Bakish said an entertainment-only, nonsports TV channel bundle, priced around $10 to $20, is coming for pay-TV subscribers this year.

Speaking at a J.P. Morgan investor conference, Bakish reiterated that Viacom is in deep talks with at least one MVPD about a channel bundle that can help bring in new customers at a lower price point and also help keep existing customers in the pay-TV ecosystem, according to Variety.

Bakish’s comments today come after, earlier this month, he used his company’s earnings call to say that operators like Charter have hinted toward offering a nonsports bundle. He added that any nonsports bundle like that would probably include integrated over-the-air broadcast signals.

“We fundamentally believe a lower-price offering would be very compelling,” said Bakish, adding that it would likely not involve all of Viacom’s channels.

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Bakish has been talking about entertainment-only bundles for a while now. In March, he called it inevitable. But today he put a more concrete timeline on when consumers might expect to see such an offering from an MVPD.

Viacom has been linked to other programmers including AMC Networks and Discovery Communications in previous reports surrounding nonsports bundles. According to Bloomberg, the programmers are in talks with four to six operators about a livestreaming channel package offered over the internet.

Those reports surfaced as programmers and broadcasters jockey for carriage in the wave of virtual MVPDs that have popped up in the past few years. Many of the newest launches, like Hulu and YouTube TV, have opted not to carry channels from core cable programmers like Viacom and Discovery.

While the entertainment-only channel packs could offer an interesting alternative to the $35-$40 vMVPDs and more expensive pay-TV subscription tiers, Bakish has been careful not to position nonsports skinny bundles as an alternative to more expensive pay-TV service. During Viacom’s earnings call earlier this month, he said that SVODs and skinny bundles are important, but that we have to be careful we’re “not creating inexpensive opportunities to serve as an alternative.”