On the heels of Verizon’s Custom TV offering, Cablevision rolled out its own targeted offering to “cord cutters” with the launch of a new, broadband “Optimum” product last Thursday. The service excludes traditional cable TV service but provides customers with a high-speed Internet connection, a digital antenna and access to Cablevision’s extensive network of Wi-Fi hot spots at a base introductory rate of $34.90 per month.
The debut of the new “Optimum Everyday Low Price” service comes as Cablevision continues to sharpen its focus on broadband Internet services as an area of growth that, eventually, may overtake the company’s traditional cable business. As cable TV revenues continue to fall nationwide in the face of “cord cutters” and “cord nevers” who are choosing to access video content through their broadband Internet connections, multichannel video program distributors (MVPDs) such as Cablevision and Verizon are answering this trend with offerings that provide potential or actual cord-cutters with greater choice and flexibility in accessing program content at a lower cost. Declaring that, “as a connectivity company, Cablevision is reimagining its relationship with its customers,” Cablevision COO Kristin Dolan explained to reporters that “our new ‘cord cutter’ packages take a modern approach to traditional triple-product bundles and provide real alternatives that fit new consumer lifestyles.”
Designed for “highly price-sensitive customers,” Cablevision’s new Optimum Everyday Low Price package includes broadband Internet access, a Mohu Leaf 50 digital antenna (valued at $69.99) which provides access to free local broadcast television programming over the Internet, and a “Freewheel” wireless handset. Introduced earlier this year by Cablevision, Freewheel provides customers with unlimited voice, text and data services by working exclusively through Wi-Fi hot spots that include the company’s Wi-Fi network in its New York-New Jersey-Connecticut-Pennsylvania service area. For an extra monthly cost of $15, customers may add the new, stand-alone “HBO Now” service that provides online and mobile access to HBO programming. Monthly broadband rates will depend upon service speeds that range from 5 Mbps to 50 Mbps and beyond.
Meanwhile, in a separate but related announcement, Cablevision confirmed on Monday that it will market the Hulu online streaming service to cable customers as part of an agreement that gives Cablevision the option of adding the Hulu app to the company’s cable set-top boxes. Dolan heralded the deal as the first partnership of its kind between an online video distributor and an MPVD and said the pact is intended to “facilitate a great content experience” for customers “whatever their preference.” Noting that “even with the rapid growth in streaming, there is a huge audience that consumes television through their cable provider,” Hulu senior vice president Tom Connolly told reporters: “we want to be there for them, too.”