Streaming services for “cord cutters” threatens to eat away at the costly “bundled” programming from the big cable/satellite TV providers. Now Verizon is seeking to head off this movement by offering more flexibility through FiOS, including options for consumers to pay only for channels they watch — call it “unbundling.”
Verizon’s new service, FiOS Custom TV, starts at $55 a month. It offers a base channel package with more than 35 channels, including local broadcasters and networks such as CNN, HGTV, AMC and the Food Network. Customers can also select two of seven genre-specific packages — such as sports, children or entertainment. These packages include about 10 to 17 additional channels and are part of the $55 monthly charge.
Additionally, customers can add channel packages for $10 a month and change their selections after 30 days.
Giving consumers flexibility at a reasonable price is a central strategy by Verizon to combat a flurry of new packages offered in recent months by media, tech and telecom companies including the PlayStation Vue streaming TV service from Sony, which starts at $50 a month and includes more than 50 channels, and Dish Network’s $20-a-month service that includes about 20 channels in its core package.
And then there’s the already established streaming services from Amazon, Hulu and Netflix, the pioneer which has exploded in popularity in recent years, in part by adding original programming. Meanwhile, television networks, including CBS and HBO, have launched stand-alone streaming services that do not require a subscription to a traditional TV service.
These streaming services are targeting the growing number of so-called cord cutters who have abandoned their traditional TV bundled programming, which is proving too expensive, with too many channels that offer little appeal.
Established cable and satellite companies are looking at all options to fight the growing competition. Michael J. Angelakis, chief financial officer at Comcast, the biggest cable provider in the U.S., said during a recent conference that Comcast is considering “more flexible packaging, more streaming, lighter packages in order to provide those alternatives and those choice to our customers.”