What the Disney+, Hulu, and Max bundle needs to work


Key Takeaways

  • Actual affordability at less than $20 per month is crucial.
  • Ad-free experience in bundles can be a key differentiator.
  • Unifying platforms could enhance the value of streaming bundles.

Recently, Disney and Warner Bros Discovery announced an impending Hulu, Disney+, and Max streaming bundle. This comes alongside an impending Netflix, Peacock, and Apple TV+ bundle alongside ESPN, Fox, and Warner Bros Discovery’s upcoming sports streaming service. With all of these bundles coming about, it’s easy to see it hearkening back to the days of cable. It’s also easy to wonder what the value in any of it is to begin with.

While it’s seemingly becoming harder and harder for streaming services to dodge the criticism of becoming more like traditional cable, it’s worth asking what exactly would make anyone actually interested in these kinds of bundles. After all, it’s not exactly a secret that most streaming services absolutely trail behind industry titans like Netflix and Amazon Prime. So, if the services aren’t as valuable to the majority of users on their own, what will make them remotely appealing to have as part of a bundle?


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Actual affordability

Bring back the original appeal of streaming

BoliviaInteligente / Unsplash / Pocket-lint

Do you remember what made Netflix cool? It’s not exactly novel or new to point out that Netflix’s initial meteoric success was due in no small part to it being cheaper than cable, and having pretty much everything you could ever want to stream on it. That appeal has slowly dissipated as content has spread across more and more services. For someone subscribed to every service in either prospective streaming bundle, they’re paying at least $20 monthly.

To make this bundle genuinely valuable, it absolutely needs to be less than $20 a month…

To make this bundle genuinely valuable, it absolutely needs to be less than $20 a month, and perhaps even as low as $9.99. Disney+ and Hulu can already be purchased in a bundle for that much, alongside ESPN+. While ESPN+ isn’t all that appealing to non-sports fans, an alternative bundle with Max could be immense value.

In the case of Comcast’s Netflix, Peacock, and Apple TV+ bundle, it’s $15 monthly. That’s around $8 less than the lowest possible price of subscribing to all three separately. It’s an appealing discount, and exactly the kind of discount that makes Apple TV+ and Peacock actually seem worthwhile.

Both bundles encompass six different streaming services, and paying for all of them separately very nearly gets to a cable-level price tag. Bundles, rather than being another step towards streaming becoming cable, could be a way for streaming services to step back towards their original appeal. Otherwise, I’ll stick to being subscribed to just one streaming service at a time.


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A break from the ads

Leave them out of the bundles

Yet another “it factor” that streaming used to have that has slowly eroded away with time is being ad-free. All the major streaming services now have ad-supported tiers. Even Netflix and HBO have fallen to having ad-supported tiers available. In the case of Amazon Prime, it’s not even a discounted option, you just simply have to pay more to remove ads now. While these are great for affordability, they should be left out of streaming bundles.

No one likes ads, it’s one of the many reasons streaming became popular to begin with.

Understandably, this would cut into the ability of companies to make these bundles affordable. But, there’s another proposition to weigh in this mix. If I’m given the choice between one service with no ads and three services with ads, I choose the one with no ads every single time. No one likes ads, it’s one of the many reasons streaming became popular to begin with. While none of the streaming services’ ad-supported tiers bombard you with commercials to the extent that cable TV does, it doesn’t make it any more enjoyable in the moment.

This is where a streaming bundle could really do well. No matter how you cut it, a bundle is going to have to cost less than the actual sum of subscribing to all three services. Deepening the discount to include streaming movies and TV ad-free could make any bundle a must-have. I don’t care too much about bundling Hulu and Disney+ with Max, but if I could have all three of them in the same ad-free environment I currently have Max, that would be incredible. Especially if it doesn’t cost too much more per month.


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A unifying platform

If we’re getting closer to cable, let’s cut to the chase

Streaming bundles can provide a potential discount for those that subscribe to multiple streamers, and be enticing for those that have wanted to check out alternative services. But, a good thing can’t really get off the ground if it isn’t intuitive to use. Streaming bundles are not intuitive. Yes, you do get access to a large streaming catalog by being subscribed to all three, but you will not have an easy time browsing it.

All three services have separate watch lists, separate catalogs, separate profiles, separate rules for password sharing, and more. This is not easy on the consumer’s end. At the start of the month, you’ll have to check all three services separately for whatever is new to the platform. In the case of Disney+ and Hulu, both platforms already have crossover content, there are shows and movies that pop up on both platforms. But with Max in the mix, there will seemingly be no content from that crossing onto either of Disney’s platforms.

If I’m going to pay for three streaming catalogs in one bundle, I want to actually be able to use them as a bundled service.

But why does it have to be this way? If I’m going to pay for three streaming catalogs in one bundle, I want to actually be able to use them as a bundled service. One thing that would actually be nice for streaming services to take from cable is being able to access all of your content in the same place.

This isn’t even that foreign of a concept either. Amazon Prime, the second most-subscribed streaming platform there is, offers you add-ons that let you view content from other services on Prime. Apple TV also offers the same thing, allowing users to add multiple streaming channels to Apple TV. This level of convenience is possible, it’s up to the streaming services to actually make it happen. If streaming services aren’t going to steeply compromise on price, they should at least put in some effort to make streaming as convenient as it once was.

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