Skinny bundles

Over-the-top “skinny bundles” are continuing to grow, and their subscribers are streaming plenty of content, but for now, they’re still a relatively small piece of the puzzle compared to traditional cable or satellite subscriptions as well as all over-the-top viewing (including people who subscribe to OTT services like Netflix while still having traditional cable). That’s the news from a new comScore report, which estimated 3.1 million U.S. households subscribed to OTT skinny bundles at the end of April. And the number’s probably higher now, considering that two further big OTT skinny bundles have launched since then. Broadcasting and Cable‘s Jon Lafayette has more:

More than 3.1 million homes had over-the-top skinny bundles as of April, according to new data from comScore.

At that point, Hulu’s live service and YouTube TV had not yet launched. Sling TV, the first skinny bundle to launch, was the biggest with more than 2 million subscribers, comScore said, followed by Sony’s PlayStation Vue and DirecTV Now, which became available at the end of 2016.

comScore found that skinny bundle customers were highly engaged with the services, watching for 5.3 hours on the average viewing day.

The breakdown of what those households are watching is interesting. The skinny bundle programming accounted for over 50 per cent of viewing, but there were still significant numbers for Netflix, Hulu, YouTube and Amazon (in that order) in those houses. So plenty of people with skinny bundles are subscribing to additional services as well, especially Netflix. And OTT viewing of some kind was estimated to be going on in 51 million U.S. homes, about half of those with a WiFi connection.

So, what’s the takeaway here? The skinny bundles are growing (and are probably even bigger now thanks to Hulu and YouTube TV entering the market), and that increases the importance of getting into them for companies like ESPN. But their numbers still aren’t that big in comparison to the overall U.S. TV market (pegged at 118.4 million homes by Nielsen in December), the overall cable market (estimated at around 97 million homes by Nielsen in March) or those 51 million households who are engaging with some OTT programming. If cable subscriptions continue to decline and skinny bundle subscriptions continue to accelerate, they’ll become even more important. But for now, they’re a piece of the puzzle, and a future-oriented one (with good growth amongst younger people, cord-cutters and cord-nevers), but a pretty small one relative to the traditional packages.

[Broadcasting and Cable]

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz is a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. He previously worked at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.