Beware Those Discounted Streaming Bundles You Don't Actually Need

Illustration for article titled Beware Those Discounted Streaming Bundles You Don't Actually Need
Image: YouTube TV/YouTube

How does a service stay competitive while also continuing to hike up the cost of its subscription? A bundle, of course.


Two live TV streaming services, Fubo and YouTube TV, have in the last week introduced bundles that package premium channels together at a discounted rate. Last Thursday, Fubo introduced a limited-time offer for Showtime, Starz, and Epix at a bargain price of $20 a month. YouTube TV, meanwhile, pitched its own premium channel bundle that included Showtime, Starz, and HBO Max for $30.

These aren’t bad deals if you already happen to subscribe to all of them individually. The three channels offered by the Fubo bundle would normally cost $26 if purchased on their own. And the services offered by YouTube TV total $35 between the three. Sure, that’s just a few bucks being saved per month, but those few bucks definitely add up over the course of the year. Those bargains don’t, however, account for the base price of the live TV streaming services that they’re attached to. And those ain’t cheap.

Three of the most popular streaming services for live TV, Fubo TV, YouTube TV, and Hulu with Live TV, have all hiked their prices to $65 in the last year. There are definitely notable differences between the three—sports enthusiasts would most likely be happiest with Fubo, while folks who DVR everything would probably be best off with YouTube TV’s plan as unlimited DVR storage is part of the package. Those who want FX content included should go the Hulu route.

But in many ways, all three services more or less do the same thing: offer a live and linear alternative to predatory cable bundles that often come with strings attached. If services can lure new subscribers away from another platform with shiny bundling options that shave a few bucks off their monthly costs, why wouldn’t they? The offers are particularly appealing right now, when many of us are still confined to our homes with limited options for entertainment. Three more services at a discounted rate sure sounds like a steal considering the amount of time we’re spending in front of our TVs.

However, it’s when you start adding the costs of premium channels like Showtime and HBO Max on top of what you’re already paying for your base package—plus Netflix or Disney+ or whatever other services you subscribe to—that those $65 plans turn into packages nearing or exceeding the $100 mark. That’s a lot of dang money to cut the cord!

To be clear, bundles are great—if they’re legitimately saving you cash. Discounts are good, and hey, get them wherever you can. Being able to build your own entertainment package is also awesome. But at some point, there’s definitely such a thing as too many services. And given that the base prices of these cable alternatives are only going up, off-setting those ever-climbing costs by skimming a little off the top in premium package offerings isn’t going to cut it.



jedidiah Theadore

For me it’s pretty simple, HBO and Netflix are an either/or. When HBO is in what I consider to be an off season, I’ll subscribe to Netflix, and dump it the second HBO gets something I want to watch. To me, Netflix is always an also ran, what I turn to when all other content has been exhausted, and the first to go when there’s alternatives.