The idea that content is king has long rested on the notion that distribution — in whatever form it takes — is a low-margin commodity, and the biggest share of profits flows to the creators of original programming, who can sell to the highest bidder. But as internet streaming disrupts channels like cable and broadcast, Disney now appears to have set its sights on distribution — and a potential new revenue source.
Posing an ever greater competitive threat to pay TV under its first full season under partnership with streaming shop BAMTech, the National Hockey League has unveiled its new-look over-the-top platform, NHL.TV.
No, the cable bundle isn’t dead. It’s more like an aging dictator who’s starting to show signs of weakness. Those around it, meanwhile, are already agitating for change. In the last few months in particular, there has been growing evidence of this revolution. After tiptoeing around the demise of the bundle for years, Disney CEO Bob Iger is finally taking bigger steps to ensure his company’s viability, with or without the traditional cable bundle.
As programming costs continue to bulge, big players have been forced to rethink the core building block of pay TV: the bundle. The “fat” package of channels, oft criticized for its bloated price, is giving way to streamlined options, including two alternatives last week, from Time Warner and Dish, that showed how the trend is gaining momentum.
Disney CEO Bob Iger says the company has bought a $1 billion stake in Major League Baseball’s streaming platform and will use it to launch a new ESPN-branded channel that will not siphon off signature programs or major sports from the cable-based ESPN services. “We view this as a complementary service.”