Google Fiber kills its traditional TV service for new customers

Google Fiber, the division of Google parent company Alphabet that provides fiber-to-the-premises service in the U.S., today announced that it will no longer offer TV subscriptions with news, sports, and local broadcast stations. Current subscribers to Fiber plans that include TV, like Fiber 1000 + TV, won’t see their existing service modified and will continue to receive traditional TV, but new Fiber customers will no longer have the option of signing up for cable bundles.

“As we return our focus to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company — we’re also ready to challenge the status quo, to finally come right out and say it: customers today just don’t need traditional TV,” wrote Fiber in a blog post. “The best TV is already online. And we want to help you watch it, in the ways that work best for your budget and your own viewing preferences.”

The writing was on the wall, it might be said. In December, Fiber rolled out a partnership with YouTube that let customers sign up for YouTube TV at the same time they sign up for Google Fiber. And this week, Fiber took wraps off of a partnership with FuboTV, an over-the-top streaming service that focuses primarily on channels that distribute live sports, including NFL, MLB, NBA, NHL, MLS, and international soccer, plus news, network television series, and movies.

“Now, new Fiber customers have at least two options to choose how they want to get the live and on-demand programming they know and love,” continued Fiber. “When you have a smooth, steady connection of a gig (or more!), getting all your TV online — live, show by show, your DVR — is possible and easy.”

Google Fiber’s TV package included more than 150 high-definition channels and some standard definition channels such as HBO, ESPN, Comedy Central, and Disney, along with optional premiums such as HBO, Cinemax, Showtime, STARZ, and sports channels. It came with a set-top box that allowed customers to navigate them using an on-screen guide and to pull up on-demand content, rent movies, and set programs to record to the storage box. Its TV Everywhere component allowed subscribers to watch shows from certain channels on a computer or mobile device when they were away from home, and the companion app for smartphones doubled as a remote control.

Google Fiber TV also came with a DVR that could store up to 2 terabytes of data, which translates to abound 500 hours of high-definition programming. It’ll record multiple shows simultaneously, up to eight at a time. And it could store personal files, like photos, music and home videos, which could be viewed or played through any connected TV via the apps menu.

The elimination of a traditional TV bundle from Fiber’s lineup comes after Google said it would no longer sell 100Mbps broadband plans to new Fiber customers. Since December, Fiber only offers gigabit (1,000Mbps) plans going forward in all 18 regions where it has

Google Fiber was first introduced to the Kansas City metropolitan area in 2011, including 20 area suburbs within the first three years. It later expanded to Austin, Texas and Provo, Utah in April 2013, and subsequently to Atlanta, Charlotte, the Triangle, Nashville, Salt Lake City, and San Antonio in 2014 and 2015. And in 2016, Fiber acquired San Francisco-based Webpass to expand its reach in apartment and condo buildings with up-to-gigabit point-to-point wireless internet.

In mid-2016, Google Fiber had 68,715 television subscribers and was estimated to have about 453,000 broadband customers, but the company was forced to scale back its ambitions following internal tumult. In October 2016, on the heels of the departure of CEO Craig Barratt, Fiber cut its staff by 8% and paused fiber plans in 11 cities. Most recently, it was forced to switch off its network in Louisville, Kentucky and exit the city after fiber installation failures left cables exposed in the roads.

Google Fiber’s now-canceled 100Mbps plan — Fiber 100 Internet — started at $50 per month and didn’t offer complimentary Google Drive storage, unlike the pricier gigabit plan. Additionally, it couldn’t be bundled with Fiber’s TV plan (but could be bundled with Fiber’s $10-per-month Fiber Phone plan) and didn’t come with the hardware included in upmarket plans, namely a TV box and an eight-tuner DVR.

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Sr. SDET M Mehedi Zaman

Currently working as Sr. SDET at Robi Axiata Limited, a subsidiary of Axiata Group.

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