As cable companies post record losses, several of them have started offering “skinny bundles” that mimic the streaming television offerings drawing so many of their customers away – a handful of live popular channels with prices as low as $20 a month. And it looks like Viacom is the next company to make the jump.
According to an announcement today from CEO Bob Bakish at the JPMorgan Tech, Media and Telecom Conference, Viacom is in “very advanced discussions” with cable and satellite companies to offer a television bundle that costs just $20 a month or less (only one without news or sports). The service should roll out some time this year.
This would be “a very exciting development in the marketplace,” according to Bakish, whose Viacom family of networks includes MTV, VH1, BET, Comedy Central, TV Land and Nickelodeon. It would be priced low enough he says, that “you can offer that, and a few of our competitors, and still be at this very low price point.”
It was just two weeks ago that Discovery CEO David Zaslav touted an entertainment only television package that was in the $10 a month price range.
Even though many industry experts see things headed that way, not everyone does. Disney head Bob Iger quipped that such a low priced package wouldn’t have “any channels that were particularly attractive” and said he didn’t see how that would even be practical.
Viacom’s Bakish said he has indeed seen a drop in subscribers who are willing to pay $100 or more a month for a bundle, but says that the $40 mid tier offering from the likes of Sling TV is “not economically sustainable.”
It’s not clear yet what exactly Viacom’s bundle would include, but what is clear is that people are leaving cable in droves, and companies are scrambling for answers.