Aluma: The New Disney-Fox-WBD Sports Bundle Could Put a Dent in Pay-TV Subscriptions

Fubo’s decision to litigate may have been a last resort but research says it was a smart move

 

New research from Aluma Insights finds that pay-TV subscribers are far more inclined than non-subscribers to sign up for the Disney, Fox, and Warner Bros. Discovery (DFW) sports bundle when it launches. One-in-five pay-TV subscribers are at least moderately likely to sign up for the DFW bundle, double the rate of those without pay TV. The data is based on cost-averaged interest across three randomly and exclusively assigned price points: $29.99, $39.99, and $49.99 per month.

Among the pay-TV customers likely to sign up for the DFW bundle, 39% are at least moderately likely to cancel their pay-TV service as a result. And MVPDs are taking notice.

“A loss of even 10% to 15% of the already-declining base of paid subscribers would severely diminish the ability of operators to stay afloat,” noted Michael Greeson, principal analyst at Aluma. “And if the those launching the DFW bundle intend to rely on demand from those without pay TV, they can forget about it. Less than one-in-ten are legitimate prospects for the service.”

In other words, the most lucrative audience for the DFW bundle is pay-TV subscribers, not at all what MVPDs want to hear.

The potential impact of the DFW bundle on pay-TV subscriptions spurred virtual MVPD Fubo to file an antitrust lawsuit against the three companies. It charges that these networks continue to thwart Fubo’s service by forcing it to buy bloated channel bundles in order to distribute the high-value live sports they own. As well, Fubo asserts that Disney, Fox, and WBD continue to charge 30%-50% more than what larger MVPDs pay to license the same content, thus unfairly hindering the company’s ability to compete. These complaints are not new, but Fubo litigated them now because the DFW bundle is poised to launch this summer and it threatens Fubo’s sports-heavy virtual pay-TV service.

“If the Department of Justice does not enjoin the DFW venture or level the playing field for Fubo to license their content at rates larger operators enjoy, Fubo could lose as much as 10% to 15% of its subscriber base by summer 2025.”

One factor that could constrain uptake of the new bundle is price. At the moment, there is a modest consensus it will launch at $50 a month. If it does, it would lessen its disruptive potential. Aluma’s research found that only 11% of decision-makers are at least moderately likely to sign up for the bundle at $49.99 per month, half the demand at $29.99 a month.

One thing is for sure: all parties in the home video value chain as well as the financial community will be watching how the Department of Justice decides the Fubo case. If Disney, Fox, and WBD are allowed to launch their bundle as currently conceived, it could open the gates for a wave of intra-network D2C bundles that compete directly with their pay-TV “partners.”

About the Research

In March & April 2024, Aluma Insights surveyed 2,032 US adults that use a broadband internet service at home, watch TV at least once a month, and who make or share in making decisions about their household’s TV and video services. Respondents were randomly drawn from a panel of over three million double-opt-in participants managed by a top-5 sample vendor. Quotas were set to represent the population in focus using data from Aluma, Pew, and US Census data.

About Aluma Insights

Aluma provides research-based strategic insights to companies in the home video value chain, serving creators, aggregators, and OEMs looking to master the connected TV ecosystem. To inquire further about Aluma’s services, please contact us at mg@alumainsights.com.