The Next Re-bundling Will Be Multi-Media (Video, Music, Games, News)

And tech is beating media to the punch

Mike Raab
Published in
10 min readAug 23, 2019


Photo courtesy of the author.

AsAs consumers bemoan the disaggregation of their favorite TV shows from Netflix into Disney+, HBO Max, NBCUniversal, and other streaming apps, it’s worth remembering that in the past 20 years of media, we’ve seen a continual unbundling and re-bundling of content. For those paying attention, one comment from James Barksdale, the former CEO of Netscape, has seemed especially prescient in regards to the media and entertainment ecosystem:

“… there’s only two ways I know of to make money-bundling and unbundling” — James Barksdale

Music has moved from bundled (albums), to unbundled (single songs, iTunes), to centrally bundled (Spotify, Apple Music). News and magazines have similarly moved from bundled (print subscriptions), to unbundled (free digital access), and are currently transitioning back to bundles (digital subscriptions). We’re also in the early stages of both video games and even movie theaters evolving into bundled, subscription models as opposed to single-transaction businesses.

While cable subscribers once begged to pay for only the channels that they watched, Netflix spoiled viewers by aggregating some of the best TV and film content of all time in a one-stop-content-shop that cost customers a fraction of the price of a cable subscription.

As consumers navigate this shifting media landscape, they’re coming to terms with the possibility that they’ll need to subscribe to more and more services for entertainment. It’s not unrealistic that your average consumer will be paying regular monthly subscriptions for music (1 subscription), video on demand (2 to 4+ subscriptions), news (2 to 3+ subscriptions), audiobooks and podcasts (??? subscriptions), and cloud-gaming services (who knows?).

If the history of media (or James Barksdale) tells us anything, it’s that there will eventually be a re-bundling of this video content, perhaps in something that looks like Cable 2.0. Perhaps though, it won’t just be video content that’s re-bundled. What if instead services across these entertainment categories are bundled and offered to users at a discount? This seems to be the future that tech companies are strategically planning for.