Add Cincinnati Bell to the roster of US pay-TV providers seeking to market skinny TV bundles to subscribers in an effort to stave off customer churn.
Cincinnati Bell Inc. (NYSE: CBB), an Ohio-based independent telco with 108,000 Fioptics video subscribers, said it plans to join the skinny TV stampede next month with the launch of its "Fioptics MyTV" offering. It will thus join such other traditional pay-TV stalwarts as Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK), Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) and Charter Communications Inc. in offering lower-cost, slimmed-down entertainment packages to its customers. (See Cable Embraces Skinny TV Bundles.)
Similar to Verizon with its Custom TV bundle, Cincinnati Bell is only shedding some of its weight, though, not most of it. Costing $29.99 a month, the MyTV starter packages will still include more than 50 channels, including such well-known cable networks as AMC, Discovery Channel and HGTV. Subscribers will then need to pick one of the provider's genre packages as an add-on, paying an extra $6 to $25 a month for smaller specialty bundles focusing on sports, kids & family, or entertainment.
But the Ohio telco will likely be seeking more favorable results than Verizon has seen with Custom TV. While the skinny bundle is catching on with Verizon customers, the company has reported that it is also cannibalizing its main FiOS TV service to some extent, cutting into its overall video revenues. (See Skinny Bundles Sock FiOS Video Revenues.)
Cincinnati Bell will offer MyTV as a standalone service to its FTTH customers. Or they will be able to bundle it with the company's broadband service, which offers data download speeds as high as 1 Gbit/s.
The move comes as other pay-TV providers grapple with how best to meet customer demand for less pricey services while still maintaining their bottom lines. Although numerous providers are now experimenting with skinnier bundles, most still insist that their traditional heavy bundles make the most sense for most customers.
In their respective companies' recent fourth-quarter earnings calls, Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) Chairman & CEO Rob Marcus and Charter President & CEO Tom Rutledge all argued that their conventional bundles are still the way to go for the overwhelming majority of their cable customers. Rutledge, for instance, noted just yesterday that 96% of Charter's 4.3 million video subscribers still opt for expanded basic cable packages or higher.
— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading