Our Streaming Shitshow

Disney Lets a Hundred Bundles Blossom
Disney, Hulu and Max Streaming Bundle Will Soon Become Available
The offering from Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery shows how rival companies are willing to work together to navigate an uncertain entertainment landscape.

We were always going back to the bundle. This was evident basically as soon as cable started unbundling. There's a whole famous quote about this particular ebbing and flowing. What I perhaps didn't expect is for Disney itself to launch about a hundred of these bundles. It's an exaggeration, but only right now. As we're seemingly getting a new bundle announcement each week. Today's:

Disney and Warner Bros. Discovery announced on Wednesday that they would start offering a bundle of their Disney+, Hulu and Max streaming services this summer, a sign of how rivals have become more willing to join forces in order to confront an ever-changing media landscape.

The companies said that the bundle would be available to buy on any of the three streaming platform’s websites (Disney owns Disney+ and Hulu; Warner Bros. Discovery owns Max), and that there would be a commercial-free version as well as one featuring ads. The companies did not announce prices or a date when the offering would become available.

Just for my own sanity, let me try to jot down what you can either now or will soon be able to get from Disney (in this story, it doesn't indicate that ESPN+ is a part of this new bundling option, but I don't see why it wouldn't be when it already is an option with Disney+ and Hulu themselves):

  • Disney+
  • Hulu
  • ESPN+
  • Disney+ and Hulu
  • Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+
  • Hulu and ESPN+
  • Disney+ and Max
  • Disney+ and Hulu and Max
  • Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+ and Max
  • Disney+ and ESPN+ and Max
  • Hulu and Max
  • Hulu and ESPN+ and Max
  • ESPN+ and Max
  • Disney+ and Sports+ (the name I'm giving the unnamed new sports bundle)
  • Disney+ and Hulu and Sports+
  • Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+ and Sports+
  • Disney+ and Hulu and ESPN+ and Sports+ and Max
  • Disney+ and ESPN+ and Sports+ and Max
  • Disney+ and Hulu and Sports+ and Max
  • Disney+ and Sports+ and Max

That's 20. I'm sure I'm missing one or a few there. And that doesn't include Hulu + Live TV, their streaming cable option. Nor does it include the other streaming ESPN service, which isn't set to launch until the fall of 2025, for some reason. Disney really is going to have over 50 streaming bundle options by then.

Add in the option for the services with or without ads and we really might cross 100. I guess that's fine? It's clearly a deliberate plan. But it's also more than a little ridiculous. And confusing.

And just wait until Paramount is sold. Depending on how it goes down, Paramount+ could very well end up bundled with Max, just adding to the complexity of it all. Unless, of course, it's paired up with Peacock, Comcast's streaming service – the one that isn't Xfinity TV. Or Now TV. Or something. Something that isn't Xumo, apparently. Or Vudu, which is now Fandango at Home – and is from both Comcast and Warner Bros Discovery. Oh and Discovery+ is still a separate streaming service from Warner Bros Discovery that is not Max (though Max includes all Discovery+ content). Also Disney has different streaming options/services overseas.

The above is going to lead us back to a "super bundle" eventually. All the streaming services in one package. Maybe not Netflix, because they're already their own version of cable. Or maybe they're the ultimate bundler if and when they need to turn on a new revenue stream. After sports that is, which is totally coming.

Amazon, of course, would love to be this bundler, as they've been trying to do it for years with "Channels" and having some success. Apple is now trying to do the same, seemingly with less success because entertainment companies are more wary of getting iTunes'd. Roku just wants to shove ads in your face. Google plays in this world as well with Android TV. Is it Android TV now or Google TV? Or was that the old one? Either way, YouTube is their big wedge and play here. And don't forget YouTube TV, which is different from YouTube on your TV. Also remember that Apple TV+ is different from Apple TV as one is a streaming service and the other is hardware, but also software that powers streaming services.

Back to Disney's bundle news of the day:

The monthly retail price for subscribing to commercial-free versions of all three services is currently $48; the plans with ads cost a combined $25. A bundled offering is likely to cost less.

Beyond complexity, cost will of course be an issue. This has also been the case for a long while now. If you pay for all the streaming options today, you're paying far more than you ever were for cable. And I'm guessing that with the micro-bundles coming together, several will eventually be more than cable by themselves as well.

We got what we wished for. And now wish we hadn't gotten what we wished for. There's a life lesson in here, somewhere.