Verizon Communications on Thursday announced a new range of packages for its FiOS TV service that allows customers to choose the networks they usually watch. The package is aimed at giving customers the flexibility to spend only on the channels they prefer watching. Starting April 19, the new service called FiOS custom TV, comes with a $55-a-month base pack, which includes local channels along with popular channels including CNN, HGTV, and AMC along with Food Network. Customers also have an option to subscribe for add-on ‘channel packs’ that include various genres like sports, lifestyle, kids, culture and pop.
“Customers want flexibility to turn channels on and turn channels off,” said Tami Erwin, president of Verizon FiOS, which serves around 5 million video subscribers.
The move comes as a result of cut throat competition among TV providers, eventually leaving it at the customer’s disposal as to how they want to watch and buy TV, instead of them being forced to buy large bundles that include many channels they don’t want.
Customers are now beginning to opt for more affordable online services such as Netflix and Hulu. Moreover, new entrants in the cyberspace are shaking things up in the TV marketplace. Streaming services like Sling TV, for instance, offer customers a mix and match of channels depending upon their preference. Apple Inc. is also prepping a TV service offering a ‘skinny’ package of channels expected to be introduced sometime in fall.
However, one of the most prominent cable network ESPN is in opposition of Verizon’s move and questions its validity. ESPN on Friday said that Verizon’s new packs violate terms and conditions of their existing contracts.
“Media reports about Verizon’s new contemplated bundles describe packages that would not be authorized by our existing agreements,” ESPN said in a statement. “Among other issues, our contracts clearly provide that neither ESPN nor ESPN2 may be distributed in a separate sports package.”
Every additional pack costs $10 extra a month. Customers can change their channels without any added cost after 30 days, said Verizon. While subscribing to the popular TV-Internet combo – which includes the base package and two channel packs along with an Internet service of 50 Mbps of upload and download speeds will cost $75 a month before taxes and fees, said Verizon. This price applies to customers committed to a 2-year contract.
“This is an entirely new way to personalize TV,” said Tami Erwin, president of Verizon’s Consumer and Mass Business group, in a statement.
A typical TV package has more than 100 channels, while Americans on an average watch only about 17 channels, Verizon said, citing a report by Nielsen’s Advertising.
The new move by Verizon is a ploy to retain its TV customers from switching to streaming-only options offered by companies like Netflix and Hulu. Customers have been cribbing about it for years that they have to pay for channels they don’t even watch.