Answering the “cord cutting” trend whereby increasing numbers of customers are relinquishing their cable TV subscriptions in favor of free or low-cost online video streaming, Verizon Communications unveiled a new “Custom TV” offering on Sunday for its FiOS TV service.  The offering gives subscribers the option of purchasing streamlined channel packages that would supplement a base offering of 35 channels. 

As a stand-alone service, Custom TV carries a starting price tag of $54 per month, which provides a base package of 35 channels that include local broadcast network stations and cable networks such as CNN, AMC, and the Food Network.  Subscribers will then have the option of adding custom packages, priced at $10 per month and consisting of between 10 and 17 channels each, that are built on themes such as sports, children’s programs, news and information, lifestyle, and entertainment.  A double-play package that adds broadband Internet to the Custom TV offering starts at $64.99 per month, and a triple-play package of video, broadband and fixed voice telephony starts at $74.99 monthly. 

While Custom TV stops short of functioning as an “à la carte” service, the monthly cost could represent a significant discount off of the average household cable bill of $90 per month calculated by research firm SNL Kagan.  Describing Custom TV as “a simple way for consumers to choose the types of channels they want without paying for those they don’t,” a Verizon spokesman told reporters, “we listened to what our customers want.”  Officials of some broadcast networks countered, however, that Custom TV’s streamlined bundles may run afoul of carriage contract provisions that forbid regional sports and other channels from being distributed to subscribers in a separate package.  Verizon CFO Fran Shammo nevertheless maintained during a press interview that “we are [within] our legal rights.”