Have It Your Way: Verizon Unbundles Its FiOS Pay TV Packages
Verizon Communications is making changes to its FiOS service. The company will offer new pay TV packages that promise to give customers the flexibility to buy only the groups of channels they actually want to watch, according to the Wall Street Journal.
Beginning April 19, FiOS customers can sign up for what the Journal described as a slim package of TV channels that would include Fox, ABC, AMC, CNN, Food Network and others. On top of that, customers can add “channel packs.”
In terms of pricing, the Journal reported that the least expensive FiOS plan will run $55 a month. Customers can add on two additional channel packs, each offering between 10 to 17 channels, for $10 a month and can switch to different channel packs after 30 days.
“Customers want flexibility to turn channels on and turn channels off,” Tami Erwin, president of Verizon FiOS, told the Journal.
Good for Consumers?
We caught up with Jeff Kagan, an independent technology analyst, to get his take on the issue. He told us the first question is whether or not this will save customers money. If customers choose wisely, they should be able to save money on the channels they watch, he said.
“If the customer gets to choose their own channels and make their own bundle, then this is a great idea,” Kagan said. “However, if Verizon chooses the bundles and puts similar channels in different bundle packages, forcing the customer to buy several bundles just to get the 10 to 20 channels they want, then this is not a good idea because the customer will still pay for more than they use.”
Clearly, the pay television space is undergoing a rapid transformation. Kagan pointed to new competitors and new technologies that are spurring rapid change. He said he expects that to continue in the years ahead.
“Pay TV was not very innovative until the last few years when technology and competition forced traditional cable television companies to change. Companies like Comcast, Time Warner Cable, Cox, Cablevision and so many others were happy leaving things as they were,” Kagan said. “Companies like AT&T U-verse, Verizon FiOS and CenturyLink Prism are changing the space. And these new competitors often offer a great quality service.”
Kagan said he tends to think the broken bundles are better for consumers than traditional cable TV. Cable TV companies are already losing market share to new competitors and new technologies and this could drive more consumers to explore FiOS.
“We get content from a variety of new competitors. We choose many new ways to watch like on the television, computer, smartphone and tablet over both wireline and wireless networks,” Kagan said. “We are using the Internet to deliver content in this space, not traditional cable television networks. It will be very interesting to track these changes which are transforming pay TV going forward.”
Posted: 2015-04-18 @ 4:18am PT
Right now the bundles are all priced equally. Down the road, pricing may diverge among bundles since sports content costs more. And that's as it should be.
ESPN is threatening litigation as they lose their "tie in monopoly rent," ie tax on non-sports viewers. Sure hope the Justice Dept., FTC and FCC intercede in THAT case.
Funny, I don't miss the weather channel on TV. Short term, consumers may well be better staying put, especially if they are receiving promotional discounts.
Smart move Verizon, a price increase that increases customer satisfaction.
Posted: 2015-04-18 @ 3:50am PT
Based on past experience with all of the providers, this is still a scam. Only way to pull people back is individual channels... so for now, I stay with 40 mbit and Amazon and Netflix till the lies are over.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 10:51pm PT
This is funny. "You don't have to buy those unwanted channels anymore, just the unwanted ones in this group of channels."
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 10:23pm PT
I'm fed up with subsidizing sport. Put all sport on its own exclusive channel package and make its viewers bear the full cost of the exorbitantly-priced deals TV cuts with over-paid teams.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 9:23pm PT
This is why I can't stand tv and I don't watch it anymore.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 8:01pm PT
This still won't work for people like me. sure, I'm probably the only one like 'me' but I keep a short list of the channels I watch among the 200+ channels now on my service. My 'short list' is 5 channels. That's five out of 200+. I know, i'm stupid, but I'm also a prisoner of greed.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 7:57pm PT
I'll reserve judgement until I see that this actually saves any money; I suspect it won't in most cases. The switch to digital blurs the line between traditional cable TV and internet video delivery and I suspect that eventually "middlemen" like Verizon and Comcast will find themselves obsolete except for the network connection and we would directly purchase (on-demand or by subscription) just the channels we want directly from their sources.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 7:15pm PT
Yeah Verizon! Hopefully Comcast and Time Warner will follow suit.
Customers who aren't sports enthusiasts shouldn't have to subsidize sports programming in the form of higher rates for channels that play the Waltons and Little House on the Prairie over and over again.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 6:31pm PT
It will be successful if customers believe they are saving money, even a small amount. Pay TV now just continues to rise in cost annually with no hope of change.
Posted: 2015-04-17 @ 6:20pm PT
If they got The Weather Channel back maybe they could keep the mass of loyal customers they are losing.