Cable has been in steady decline, but it has not hit the freefall levels that entirely changed the music industry, or even the numbers that have massively changed the market for most newspaper publishers. The pay-television business has, however, seen its losses pick up, with cable and satellite providers losing 2.85 million customers in the first two quarters of the year combined -- a number only slightly smaller than the full-year loss for all of 2018 (2.87 million).
The reasons for the drop are obvious: Streaming services make it possible to get a lot of entertainment for way less than the price of cable.
Cable, however, has had an edge when it comes to ease of use and sheer volume. Someone cutting the cord can save money and access most content (at a cost), but that generally involves using multiple services. Walt Disney (DIS -2.31%), however, may have the answer to that: a streaming bundle so cheap and diverse that it's worth making some sacrifices.
What is Disney doing?
The Mouse House plans to offer a $12.99 per month bundle that will include Disney+, ESPN+, and Hulu. That gives consumers access to network television content (albeit on a time delay) through Hulu, sports with ESPN+ (although not much live content in the major sports), and a wide array of Disney-owned content through Disney+ (Star Wars, Disney archives, Marvel, Pixar, etc.).
Cable customers spend an average of $107 a month for their packages, according to a Nov. 2018 Fortune piece. That means that dropping cable for the Disney bundle will save a consumer about $94 a month, maybe a little less if you lose a bundling discount that included internet.
In opting for the Disney bundle over cable, the consumer is making sacrifices. You lose access to a lot of live sports, and ESPN+ only has boxing, mixed martial arts, and a selection of content the company describes as follows:
ESPN+ features a selection of live games from MLB, MLS, Serie A, FA Cup, EFL and NHL. Get in on the action with Live UFC Fight Nights, 30+ Top Rank Boxing cards, Grand Slam tennis from Wimbledon, US Open and Australian Open. Plus access to your favorite college sports like football, basketball, lacrosse, and more.
Cord cutters who opt for the Disney bundle also lose access to a lot of network and cable programming. They replace it, however, with Hulu and Disney+ originals, which include multiple new series based on Star Wars and Marvel.
Will people cut the cord?
If you're an NBA or an NFL fan, the Disney deal may not work for you. The Disney bundle may also not work for families with multiple members who would have to sacrifice some of their most-loved programming.
If you want to save money and get the best value for your entertainment dollar, however, the Disney bundle may be the offer that finally gets you to cut the cord with cable. Disney isn't offering a cable replacement (though adding Hulu Live for $44.99 a month to the bundle is pretty much that). It's offering a lot of programming -- much of it top-tier -- for very little money. That's a tempting deal, which may be too good for many people to pass up.