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December 11, 2023
A small cable operator in Kentucky is the latest among a growing group of operators that has opted to shut down its own pay-TV service amid rising programming costs and to instead focus on its core, higher-margin broadband offerings.
As first spotted by CordCuttersNews, Duo has alerted customers that it will shutter its own streaming-based TV service on January 1, 2024, and will cut off its legacy cable TV service on December 31, 2024.
Citing "extreme price increases from programmers," Duo said it's opting to phase out its own video services rather than pass those price increases along to customers.
Jamestown, Kentucky-based Duo has teamed with MyBundle to help its existing pay-TV subscribers transition to various subscription-based and free Internet-delivered streaming options. MyBundle has become a go-to partner for a wide range of small and midsized operators, fueled partly by its relationship with the National Content & Technology Cooperative (NCTC), an organization that forges programming and technology deals on behalf of hundreds of tier 2/3 operators. More recently, MyBundle partnered with Calix, a broadband network supplier that works with dozens of small/rural operators.
"Larger national providers are able to negotiate better rates, and can keep your rates lower than we could," Duo explained.
Duo is also providing customers with a $50 credit on their last Duo TV streaming bill "to ease the transition to a new TV experience," according to a company announcement made in September.
Bugging out of pay TV will allow Duo to focus on its core broadband and business services. Duo presently offers residential broadband speeds up to 1 Gbit/s for $99.94 per month. To help boost the average revenue per user (ARPU) of its home broadband service, Duo also sells a managed Wi-Fi service, branded as Gigasphere Blast, for an additional $9.95 per month, along with Wi-Fi extenders from Calix for an additional $4.95 per month.
Building on a trend
Duo is part of a growing group of smaller operators that have made the decision to switch off their own pay-TV services. Other recent examples include Montana's Mid-Rivers Communications and Massachusetts municipal cable operator Beld Internet.
Meanwhile, WideOpenWest (WOW) now considers YouTube TV as its primary video offering. WOW isn't forcing customers off its own pay-TV offerings, but the company would like to shut down its legacy, QAM-based video platform over the next 18 months or so, company CEO Teresa Elder said on the company's Q3 2023 earnings call.
Cable One continues to support its legacy QAM-based and an IP-based pay-TV offering in partnership with TiVo, but isn't actively marketing them. The company recently signaled that its days in the pay-TV game is numbered.
"Currently, we are navigating the final stages of decline in our video product," Cable One Chair, President and CEO Julie Laulis said on the company's Q3 2023 earnings call. "As we draw down on our remaining video subscribers, we are preparing for an environment without a video business, including planning for a reduction in our remaining non-programming support costs."
The story differs slightly from some of the larger US cable operators. Comcast and Charter Communications are now focused on their Xumo streaming national streaming joint venture, but are no longer trying to save video subs with unprofitable promotions.
Larger operators are also starting to avoid traditional programming deals, instead focusing on new carriage agreements that bundle in direct-to-consumer streaming services. A prime recent example there is Charter's new deal with Disney.
Editor's note: The story was changed to reflect that Cord Cutters News was first to spot the decision by Duo to shut down its pay-TV offerings.
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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