Best alternatives to cable and satellite

The best alternatives to the cable bundle are being offered by cable companies
January 10, 2017 – 02:51 pm
The New York Times Shares

The best alternatives to the cable bundle may be coming from the cable companies themselves.

Since Verizon Communications introduced in April cheaper, slimmed down bundles of just dozens of TV channels - as opposed to hundreds, the company said on Thursday that 30 to 40 percent of its new FiOS television customers have asked for the new packages. And in a new bet on mobile video, the telecom firm said it has signed up 25, 000 people for the free streaming service Go90 that goes live later this month.

Just months ago, the idea of introducing alternatives to the fat cable bundle were anathema to an industry that has long fought to keep that profitable business model intact. But with declining ratings and advertising revenues and more people dropping their cable subscriptions altogether, the industry has shifted tone.

“Obviously we are the disruptors here. The question is how quickly the content providers will move, ” Verizon chief executive Lowell McAdam said in an interview on CNBC Thursday. Verizon, Dish, and Cablevision were first to offer skinny bundles and streaming packages that offer smaller package of channels over the Internet.

TV industry executives disagree how quickly the traditional cable bundle will decline. 21st Century Fox CEO James Murdoch said at a Goldman Sachs conference this week he expects "cord cutting" to decline by around 1 percent this year. But he and others predict many more offerings like Verizon's will emerge.

"It's a logical development, " said Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes at a Goldman Sachs media and telecommunications conference this week. He said the new business models, including skinny bundles, have created new revenue opportunities and larger audiences. In April, Time Warner released its $15-a-month HBO streaming app through Apple, Cablevision, Verizon and Dish. And its Turner broadcasting channels are available on Dish Network's SlingTV service. "It's probably good for consumers and its good for us."

Apple is rumored to be working on a streaming service could be the best alternative to the big cable bundle, with local TV news, sports and the most popular channels. Hulu has aggressively invested in original content and for the rights to run in-season series such as Fox’s “Empire.”

The move toward slimmer bundles and streaming apps is a risky bet for an industry that has seen big profits from the large packages of channels that have been increasing in price and size. Indeed, Verizon has about 5.7 million FiOs customers who pay at least $75 a month just for TV.

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