February 6, 2020
Alphabet’s Google Fiber, a service that provides fiber-to-the-premises IPTV content, is shutting down its bundle offering news, sports, local and premium channels. Existing subscribers to Fiber with TV will not see any changes to their service, but new customers won’t have the option. A company blog post explained that the service would return its focus “to where we started — as a gigabit Internet company.” It added that, “customers today just don’t need traditional TV … [because] the best TV is already online.”
VentureBeat reports that this decision comes in the wake of Fiber’s recent “partnership with YouTube that let customers sign up for its YouTube TV service at the same time they sign up for Google Fiber.”
This week, Fiber unveiled another 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.”
Another factor in ending the traditional TV bundle was Google’s decision to no longer sell 100 Mbps broadband plans to new Fiber customers. Fiber only offers gigabit plans in all 18 regions where it launched.
Fiber TV, which came with a set-top box, offered viewers “more than 150 high-definition and some standard definition channels such as HBO, ESPN, Comedy Central, and Disney” as well as on-demand programming, an on-screen guide and the ability to record to a local 2-terabyte DVR, a remote streaming feature and an Android/iOS app that could double as a remote control.
The DVR, in addition to 500 hours of HD content, could also “store personal files, like photos, music, and home videos, which could be viewed or played through any connected TV via a dedicated apps menu.”
VB notes that, as far back as 2014, Fiber executive Milo Medin admitted that the service’s biggest challenge was “the cost of acquiring video content.” Google reportedly paid “twice as much” as “more established service providers for video rights, in part because it lacked comparable vertical integrations and legacy deals.” In mid-2016, “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.”
By the end of 2016, Fiber cut staff by 8 percent and plans were “paused” in 11 cities. More recently, it switched off its Louisville, Kentucky network “after fiber installation failures left cables exposed in the roads.”