One of the biggest problems with streaming right now is that there are just too many services. It can be hard to remember what you’re subscribed to, and then when you decide to cancel one (or more), the whole process leaves you with a few extra grey hairs.
Fortunately, there is a solution on the horizon. Bango is a company that has worked with several mobile operators such as Verizon in the US and Optus in Australia to create ‘super bundles’, packages that customers can add to their existing bills to keep subscriptions all in one easy-to-access place.
The idea is that when you sign up for something like a mobile phone contract, you also have the option of paying for subscriptions including Netflix and HBO Max. Optus’ SubHub, for example, is available both through a web browser, and a web app on Android/iOS.
Some providers in the UK already have this sort of thing on a smaller scale – O2 has its extras, for example. However, Bango’s proposition offers a much wider range of apps to add to an existing monthly bill. From streaming services such as Netflix, to mental health apps like Calm, and even educational subscriptions like Duolingo.
At MWC 2023, I spoke with Anil Malhotra, co-founder of Bango, and Giles Tongue, VP of marketing. They both discussed the benefits of “super bundling”, and why it could be the cure for people suffering from subscription overload.
Tongue discussed how one of the main USPs of super bundling is “removing the administrative nightmare of fragmentation” when it comes to streaming services.
For example, the process of ending your Netflix subscription is wildly different to cancelling Amazon Prime (five different pages, really, Jeff?), so people can save time by having an easy-to-manage process that’s the same for all subscriptions.
When it comes to streaming specifically, it’s not unusual to subscribe to multiple platforms. For example, I have Netflix for my comfort shows such as Community and Friends, Now for the latest TV hit The Last of Us and Disney+ for all my Marvel favourites.
Dominik Tomaszewski / Foundry
Super bundling isn’t necessarily about cutting down on the number of subscriptions, it’s about providing options. As Malhotra puts it in Bango’s survey report, “Subscription users don’t want less choice, they want less admin.”
In fact, Park Associates released a study that showed 23% of respondents in the US fork out for a whopping nine different subscriptions. That’s a whole lot of admin when it comes to both signing up and cancelling. Plus, it’s likely that one or two may slip through the cracks and you end up paying for services you don’t even use.
Bango’s own study of over 2,500 US respondents shows that 35% don’t know how much they’re paying for their subscription services, and this rises to over half with those in Gen Z. Having a content hub that displays everything clearly will help users keep track of their spending. I know my bank account would be grateful for that.
Super bundles are especially relevant right now during the cost-of-living crisis. According to Kantar Worldwide (as reported by Deadline), over 1 million UK users cancelled their streaming subscriptions in 2022 following the huge price increases in energy bills and food shops.
Malhotra discussed why this type of model is so important right now: “People look for value. Going out feels expensive, so people will spend their money entertaining their home, and obviously OTT [over-the-top] services are ideal for that… and bundling can offer better value”.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
For example, with Optus SubHub, you can save 5% if you buy two subscriptions and 10% if you buy three. Verizon also announced at the start of January that it would offer four months of Pelton for free via +play – a generous discount rarely found elsewhere.
Bango confirmed that +play is building in a notification system to tell users when promotions and deals are on (such as during Black Friday), so you won’t have to go looking for them. This means that you can try out several different subscriptions and pay less for them.
The content hub will also ping people when prices are going up, so there shouldn’t be any surprise price hikes.
Of course, super bundling doesn’t just have to be limited to phone and broadband providers. Bango recently started working with Benefit One, a Japanese employee benefits company, to bring this service to their hubs. This business model could even be applied to other sectors, such as credit and debit card providers, or household billing companies.
Hannah Cowton / Foundry
American readers can already take advantage of a super bundle platform via Verizon +play, though this is still in the beta stage. It is available to post-paid, mobile, 5G Home and LTE Home subscribers. If you’re in the UK, then super bundles aren’t available… yet.
Bango already works with BT and EE in the UK on third-party subscription offerings, and Tongue confirmed that this company is “progressing with pace in how they’re developing their vision” of a super bundle. It certainly sounds like a real incentive to me, especially if you’re struggling to keep on top of multiple memberships.
There are other ways you can take advantage of a similar super bundle style model. You can subscribe to platforms through Amazon Prime Video, or via YouTube’s Primetime Channels. However, these lists don’t quite include the same heavy hitters available on Verizon +play or Optus SubHub.
All in all, this could be a game-changer for managing your streaming subscriptions, especially if the thought of convoluted financial admin gives you the ick.
What I’m watching this week
Any fellow members of the gaming/nerdy community online will be familiar with Rooster Teeth, the production company behind shows such as RWBY, Red Vs Blue and more. This week, one of my favourite panel shows, Always Open, made a return after a multi-year hiatus.
Always Open brings together a series of panellists who discuss relationships and life in a casual and welcoming atmosphere, taking questions from users and exploring all kinds of topics. The first episode of the new season has a special guest, Troy Baker, who is the voice actor for Joel in The Last of Us game (the TV series airs its final episode this week on HBO Max).
Always Open is free to watch on the YouTube Channel All Good No Worries, with new episodes releasing every Tuesday.