Industry Voices—Groch: vMVPD prices inch higher, but ISPs help keep them relevant, for now

Direct-to-consumer ads
Emily Groch Industry Voices

YouTube TV caused a stir last month when it announced a whopping 30% price increase, resulting in a $65/month price point. YouTube TV is now the most expensive month-to-month streaming live TV service on the market, but FuboTV is close behind, starting at $60/month, after it, too, announced a price increase earlier this month.

Consumers are balking at YouTube TV’s significant increase on social media, and industry analysts are debating the long-term prospects for streaming live TV (are the days numbered; do they need to repackage content into “skinny” bundles, per the Sling TV/original plan; etc.). While I do have some concerns about YouTube TV’s longevity (which existed before this price increase), I also see opportunity for streaming live TV services through artificial bundles with ISPs that do not otherwise offer video services—and I think this opportunity still exists with as these streaming live TV services get bigger and more expensive.

At Comperemedia, we’ve been watching a growing trend of smaller ISPs either dropping video altogether or experimenting with the idea. When these providers deprioritize video, they often encourage customers to subscribe to a vMVPD for their live TV needs. In fact, ISPs are promoting the gamut of streaming live TV options, but YouTube TV and FuboTV seem to be popping up most frequently.

For example, Google Fiber dropped its video service this year, instead encouraging customers to choose YouTube TV or FuboTV. Cincinnati Bell and U.S. Internet featured YouTube TV alongside their internet promotions.

Verizon Fios has even been offering customers a choice between YouTube TV or Fios TV as part of “Mix & Match.”

WOW letter

Many other providers including RCN, Grande, and Consolidated Communications have featured a menu of streaming live TV options in their internet marketing. WOW! even asked some of its customers to drop their WOW! TV service and save money by choosing a streaming live TV option.

Although the current climate is a bad one for price increases, if we look at the streaming live TV service alongside internet—as part of an artificial bundle, if you will—the pricing doesn’t feel out of whack with traditional double play bundles (once you figure in fees and exploding offers). The price increases really feel most egregious when we compare these players with other streamers. As such, agreements with ISPs like these will help drive the longevity of streaming live TV services.

Don’t get me wrong; I believe there’s a limited window for streaming live TV packages. vMVPDs face most of the same pressures as traditional MVPDs, and these factors will be exacerbated depending on the overall impact of the pandemic (due to shrinking household budgets, lack of live content, etc.). But vMVPDs should be able to continue stealing away from cable/satellite providers those consumers that value a fat bundle of content with live TV programming. I think that when a streaming live TV service is paired with a compellingly priced internet service, and that ISP is helping spread the word through its own marketing and savings messages, it increases the likelihood that the ISP will be able to woo consumers away from their current bundled services provider, and that vMVPDs will share in that success.

Emily Groch is Comperemedia’s Director of Insights, Telecommunications. She pairs her deep knowledge of marketing within the telecommunications industry with Mintel’s consumer research, trends, and competitive marketing intelligence to build timely, meaningful stories for Mintel and Comperemedia telecom clients. Emily travels throughout the US and Canada to present industry marketing trends and insights to major TV, Internet, and wireless service providers, and their advertising agencies.

Industry Voices are opinion columns written by outside contributors—often industry experts or analysts—who are invited to the conversation by FierceVideo staff. They do not represent the opinions of FierceVideo.