How Does Comcast View the Trend of Skinny Bundles?



Comcast’s view of skinny bundles

Comcast (CMCSA) has bucked the trend of increasing pay-TV subscriber losses. The company narrowed its video subscriber losses to 4,000 in fiscal 2Q16, its best second-quarter result in the past ten years. After AT&T (T) acquired DIRECTV, it became the largest US pay-TV player.

However, AT&T lost more video subscribers in the last quarter than Comcast. As other pay-TV businesses like Dish Network (DISH) go through a decline in subscribers, pay-TV operators are concentrating on the trend of skinny bundles like Dish’s Sling TV.

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Comcast was asked about the trend of skinny bundles at the Goldman Sachs Communacopia Broker Conference. Comcast stated that it was “experimenting” when it comes to skinny bundles. The company added that it viewed the trend of skinny bundles “as a way to attract customers who otherwise aren’t probably in the ecosystem.”

Comcast further stated that when it comes to Xfinity skinny bundles on the X1 set-top box, it has observed that ~30% of its customers eventually upgrade the bundle. Comcast indicated that the company will continue to add more value to the skinny bundle on the X1 set-top box, such as the company’s broadcast of the Rio Olympics.

Now let’s see how Comcast’s peer Dish Network’s (DISH) skinny bundle, Sling TV, is performing with respect to its subscriber base.

Dish Network’s Sling TV

As Dish’s pay-TV business goes through a decline, the company is increasingly concentrating on its OTT (over-the-top) service, Sling TV. In addition to revamping its Sling TV service, the company also launched a multi-stream version of Sling TV earlier this year.

Dish Network’s management stated at its fiscal 2Q16 earnings call that it was observing an “uptake” for Sling TV’s multi-stream service. The company observed that some of its subscribers had migrated from Sling TV’s single-stream service to the multi-stream one. Dish believed that one reason for this migration was the appealing content available on Sling TV’s multi-stream service. It expects that this trend will continue.

As the above chart indicates, Dish’s Sling TV service is priced at $20 per month, which is less than the proposed price for Hulu’s online television service set to be launched later this year.


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