Throughout the last decade, media industry experts watched as the traditional television model was torn up and a new order asserted itself.

Since the advent of cable and satellite television, media companies would ‘bundle’ together numerous channels as part of a TV package. Those bundles represented good value for the broadcasters as people would in essence pay for channels they didn’t watch.

What many consumers failed to realize was that this was also good value for them, as revenue from those channels would subsidize the content they did watch. However, consumers only wanted to pay for the content they consumed, and as technology developed to facilitate that move, mainly through the internet, cable companies were left trying to salvage a dying business model as an entire generation cut the cable cord.

2010 was the first year in which pay-TV saw subscriber numbers decline, with research suggesting these companies were losing over 200,000 subscribers per quarter, with live sport largely being the sole reason for the subscriber base not hemorrhaging further.

While live sport was a bulwark against pay-TV dying out completely, the proliferation of streaming services has meant that the television landscape has radically changed with every media company now owning and operating some sort of streaming service, either running solo or in partnership with other entertainment providers to access as much content as possible.

While the choice is there for the audience, cost implications are also present. All streaming services charge at least $10 per month as a starting subscription, and the move towards incorporating advertising models suggests that this model simply is not generating profit in any meaningful way.

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Netflix has significant operating debt and has introduced subscription options with and without advertising, as has Amazon Prime. Disney has been taken to court over its projected subscriber numbers, while Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD) has rebranded and relaunched its Max streaming service as it prepares to enter new markets.

DAZN, the sports streaming service, has been operating at a loss since its inception and has restructured its operations and become more strategic in the rights it looks to acquire, which is why it was surprising to see it even linked to English Premier League rights in the last bidding cycle given the unlikeliness of it entering the race.

While every financial analyst insisted that media companies must have a streaming service, it is evident that this was short-term thinking. While the fact that the internet has changed the way we engage with content is indisputable, the most successful internet platforms are those that push short-form content.

YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok rely on high-volume, short video clips that allow significant advertising to take place around them.

Longer form content does not have the same appeal to advertisers in the streaming age, where many will binge-watch shows in hours as opposed to making a weekly appointment to view.

Again, the last bulwark against this for traditional media companies was sports content, where watching live is still a necessity. Natural breaks in play allow for adverts to be worked into programming, with the NFL a prime example of this.

While sports content delivers audiences and advertisers, sports rightsholders are also very aware of their appeal, which is why the cost of sports rights keeps increasing.

The increase in costs of sports rights along with the current model is simply not an equation that can be balanced by the media companies. With every rights price increase comes an increase in the cost of a subscription passed on to the consumer, which ultimately means that consumers are forced to make choices regarding which content they engage with.

The move to ‘rebundle’ their sports content will not only provide Fox, ESPN, and WBD the opportunity to reach a large significant audience, giving advertisers greater reach for their products, it will reduce the need for competition for sports rights.

While some properties like the NFL and MLS are locked in for the next decade, the NBA now has a major problem ahead of its rights deal next year, with the broadcasters they hoped would be competing for their rights now locked in partnership, which will no doubt have a significant impact on their renewal price.

By offering one platform for a whole host of sports content, the Fox/ESPN/WBD service follows the basic cable model – pay a fee for everything, even the stuff you don’t watch.

Small amounts of users may consume everything, while a majority will only tune in to premium sports content. However, it is likely advertising will be sold against all content, and subscription packages will be priced accordingly.

While many have said that ‘traditional TV’ is dead, this move shows that the traditional TV model still has a lot going for it, and while the delivery may be changing from cable to internet, more consolidation will take place over the next decade as more media organizations realize that their power to reach significant audiences comes from having the ability to work together.

We have seen this writ large in the UK sports and media markets, and with the US moving in this direction, the ‘great rebundling’ is happening and consumers will go along with it if they want their favorite content.