Surprises

by Karl Bode


Filed Under:
cord cutting, fios, fiostv, maitreyi krishnaswamy, tv

Companies:
verizon



Verizon Exec In Charge Of TV Services Admits She Cut The Cord

from the I-don't-really-like-the-product-I-sell dept

When the executive in charge of your company's traditional television services publicly admits she's a cord cutter who no longer watches traditional TV, it might be time to reconsider the future of pay television. By and large most cable and broadcast executives have responded to the cord cutting phenomenon by either denying it exists, claiming it's the domain of losers, or insisting it's a fad that will magically evaporate once more Millennials procreate. But at a recent TV industry conference, Verizon's director of FiOS TV services, admitted she's been a cord cutter for a while:
"Maitreyi Krishnaswamy, director of FiOS TV, has a confession, and it doesn't bode well for the future of Verizon's fixed-line video business. "I've pretty much cut the cord," Krishnaswamy admitted on a panel at the TV of Tomorrow event in New York City. Krishnaswamy is bullish on Verizon's new Go90 mobile video service, but she readily acknowledges there are major challenges in the traditional pay-TV business.
For all its faults, Verizon executives have been considerably more progressive than its industry counterparts when it comes to cord cutting, at times being actually able to admit a massive change is on the wind. And Verizon has responded by being one of the only companies to embrace more flexible TV channel lineups, including its recent launch of a so-called skinny bundle that takes the most expensive part of the cable lineup (sports, ESPN) and places it outside of the core channel offering. Such a move was TV industry heresy, and Verizon was sued by ESPN for its efforts.

That's not to say Verizon's approach to battling cord cutting hasn't been without faults. While Verizon is offering new skinny bundles that are less expensive than the company's traditional cable options, it hasn't been able to entirely shake its legacy telco DNA. As such, the offerings are loaded with the usual sneaky below-the-line fees and device rental charges that jack up the price of the service post sale. Old habits die hard.

As for innovating, like most cable companies, Verizon finds itself torn between wanting to offer a kick-ass, disruptive product, and being terrified of cannibalizing its existing legacy TV customers. The end result for most cable companies is a smattering of services like TV Everywhere that talk a lot about innovation, flexibility and value, but are crafted by people too terrified to actually commit. And while Verizon clearly believes its new Go90 wireless streaming service will make the stodgy telco sexy to Millennials, the service has been maligned as a clumsy smattering of shows Verizon's target demo is already getting elsewhere.

While it's impressive that Verizon recognizes the future and is taking steps toward adaptation, it's important to remember this is the same company currently suing to dismantle net neutrality. And while company execs might be willing to admit they cut the cord, they'll never accept the reality that if history is any indication, it's going to be smaller, hungrier, companies that actually revolutionize the TV sector.

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  • identicon
    Michael, 14 Dec 2015 @ 6:56am

    You can't tell me she wasn't getting it for free to begin with.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      John Nemesh, 14 Dec 2015 @ 8:29am

      Re: getting it free...

      Well, this should speak volumes then...if she gets the service for FREE, and STILL "cuts' the cord...what does that tell the company about the value proposition of their product?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Bob, 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:09am

        Re: Re: getting it free...

        Verizon's video service is very similar to most others, albeit with a better picture.

        It's the content. Either you want it, or you don't.

        She doesn't need it, and she's not alone. If you're not a sports fan, it's extremely easy to cut the cord.

        I read her comments as someone who doesn't watch enough TV to warrant the expense. She probably does watch video, but through the multitude of alternatives that have cropped up over the years.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      lucidrenegade (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 9:48am

      Re:

      The real question is does she have FIOS available where she lives? If not, maybe she doesn't watch TV so why pay for it?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Voogru (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 10:40pm

      Re:

      So if she was getting it for free, they couldn't even give their services away?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Jeremy Lyman (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 8:01am

      Re:

      Sure, her service is free, but she's still paying $14.99 for the set top box rental. That's how they get you.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Christopher (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:03am

    Ah, Verizon.

    A true historical oddity, the monopoly that won't die.

    When AT&T had to break open its device stranglehold on its ratepayers, you kept the spirit alive. Not content to charge freight for carrying bits, you keep the Bad Old Days alive with mandatory device restrictions (complete with port 4567 backdoors, for your protection!), mandatory device requirements (adapter for every stream, anyone?), crippled services (any FiOS customers have picture-in-picture? no? of course you don't), and unethical price hikes (oh no, it's a fee separate from that pay-one-price deal we hooked you with two years ago).

    Don't think we're just limited to FiOS folks. VZW customers also enjoy the same stupidity! Lock down those phones, don't want someone blocking ads or removing the bloatware. Shhhh, don't mention that supercookie you can't kill, or APN you can't modify. Tether? Only if it's around your neck so we can slowly strangle you with more fees. Hotspot access? No way, we control the transport *and* the endpoints. Why? Because that's the law we bought, and we have more money than you do.

    Awesome company. Deserves to be broken up and put under a DoJ consent decree. Okay. I'm done now.

    --#

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      ThatDevilTech (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:09am

      Re: Ah, Verizon.

      I feel like we're getting closer and closer to the Rockefeller/Standard Oil days where a few owned it all and then the government came in and said "not so fast" but, then to do that the government would have to stop taking money from these companies and grow a pair....we all know how that will probably go. But, a guy can dream right? Right? There should be at least 3 competitors in a market area and there needs to be more competition across the country. Not one or two companies owning the entire TV market or Internet market. It all boils down to competition though. That's needed. Then, rather than merging again, the companies live or die by competition, not buying up the competitors.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 8:12am

        Re: Re: Ah, Verizon.

        I feel like we're getting closer and closer to the Rockefeller/Standard Oil days where a few owned it all and then the politicians came in and said "This is what you get for not greasing my palms!"

        FTFY

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:06am

    I think cable companies need to realize that cord cutting often has nothing to do with the price of the service. Krishnaswamy clearly can afford cable TV.

    There are a million things that I can do with my evening and watching video will win sometimes. For that, I can pay $2-$3 per episode on iTunes, Amazon, or Google and not have to sit through commercial.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:41am

      Re:

      ...cord cutting often has nothing to do with the price of the service...

      My admittedly unscientific survey in my neighborhood says otherwise: the majority of cord cutters cut the cord because the prices were too high, both for simple landline phones and cable. DirectTV & Dish will soon follow if they keep up their pricing.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 8:13am

        Re: Re:

        I'd say it's a mix of things, high cable prices and other options. TV these days is competing with videogames, video streaming services, and the internet in general for people's attention. I bet if you asked those people people further questions, you'd find they weren't simply doing without due to the high price, they'd also found cheaper alternatives to occupy their time to begin with, making cutting the cord not all that huge a sacrifice.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 9:11am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Well said. I'm not watching much TV these days and it isn't because television is too expensive, it's because free time is too scarce.

          I like to read, I like to play video games, I have hobbies, I have a dog that likes to be walked, I have kids that are fun to play with, etc... If I want to pick up a new series to watch, something else has to give.

          I do have a cable TV subscription though. I watch baseball and usually one dramatic series per season (I'm into Fargo right now). My (teenager) kids don't watch any TV at all. When I was their age, I had four or five channels and watched as much TV as I could (several hours per day). My kids have a thousand channels available and watch nothing. Most of their friends don't watch TV either or if they do, they are into one thing.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

          • identicon
            Bob, 15 Dec 2015 @ 10:15am

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Fargo is the bomb... and like you, one of the few shows I watch.

            I occasionally try some of the shows from the big boys, like CBS, NBC, but it's so watered down, it bores me to tears.

            Instead enjoy my family, my hobbies, and the occasional great movie. Just re-watched Goodfellas and Little Miss Sunshine. Different movies, but both had great stories, direction, and acting.

            Now, compare those to ..... Quantico? No contest.

            reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:11am

    Data caps incoming

    If consumers won't buy extra services, the only solution is to raise prices. Verizon doesn't have strict data caps like Comcast, but that may become the norm.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 8:57am

      Re: Data caps incoming

      That would be interesting. So on what basis would cable TV be sold? Hours watched? Bandwidth consumed? Would 10 hours of an HD channel cost more than 10 hours of an SD channel? Would 5 hours of ESPN cost more than 5 hours of NBC?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 12:27pm

        Re: Re: Data caps incoming

        >So on what basis would cable TV be sold
        The same as it always has. The point is fewer people are buying it anymore.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

        • identicon
          Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:30am

          Re: Re: Re: Data caps incoming

          As someone that doesn't watch a lot of cable tv, I kind of like the idea of pay-as-you-go service. If it were competitive with iTunes or Amazon ($2-$3 / hour) I would save quite a bit of money.

          reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Johan (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:59am

    Below the line fees

    I had switched my fios bundle to skinny without ESPN but found I was nearly doubling my above-the-line rate with below the line fees and equipment rentals.

    I then canned the TV part completely and I have been VERY surprised to see $0 in below the line fees on my internet service only.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Christopher (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 9:11am

    It's the endpoints.

    Look, let's agree to separate supply and commodity, just like gas companies.

    I want Verizon to connect me to the Internet. Period. Don't block ports, don't tell me what to do, don't tell me how to do it, don't force me to use specific devices. Everything they do to diminish the experience adds up to an undirected rage of helplessness, generated by them. This is the source of the anger.

    If I want TV, give me TV. Bundle it, whatever, just give me access to the content and let me figure out how I want to see it. Don't block my ability to skip commercials, watch picture-in-picture, or save episodes for later. Don't put a "Subscribed Channel" filter on my set-top and then list non-subscribed content to tease me.

    Play fair. I think they are incapable of fair play, and so that's why they must be punished.

    --#

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 9:19am

      Re: It's the endpoints.

      > I want Verizon to connect me to the Internet. Period.

      How would that be good for Verizon shareholders? I think that by adding all the crap to your service, they can generate a lot more revenue from the data they sell you.

      Good luck convincing Verizon that their shareholders would be better off if they just sold you a dumb pipe.

      > Don't block my ability to skip commercials

      I think the more insidious part of that functionality is that every time you press FF or REW on your remote, your DVR sends that to your cable company and waits for a response granting permission. The cable company knows what you are watching and when you watch it and what parts you skip or rewatch or enable CC. The DVR is one of the greatest data collection devices imaginable.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Glenn, 14 Dec 2015 @ 10:58am

    Smartphones do the dumbest things. Mobile video? Well, if that's something you really think you need, then you should have to pay through the nose to get it--after all, nothing's better than being able to watch the big game on a small screen (right?). You haven't really cut the cord; you've just gone wireless with a virtual cord.

    Maybe instead of spending as much time as possible trying to keep up with what everyone else in the world is doing with their lives, try to spend more time focused on your own life.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 14 Dec 2015 @ 7:42pm

    How?

    In reality, how do you cut the cord? I have a choice of Verizon FIOS or Comcast. If I could get good Internet from someone else for less than about $100/month, then it would make sense. But the only other local option is a wireless ISP with draconian policies that make me think I'm better of with Comcast.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    charliebrown (profile), 14 Dec 2015 @ 10:41pm

    Australia / Foxtel

    Australia has a monopoly pay TV providor in Foxtel. However, starting several years ago, they started offering the sports channels as a seperate, add-on package, as for over 10 years, the biggest customer complaint was having so many sports channels in the basic package.

    The down side is, you must get their basic package in order to also get the sports package, but that's not so bad as they halved the price of their basic package last year. Well, to me it is not bad, as I don't subscribe to the sports channels!

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    scatman09 (profile), 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:16am

    need or want

    Eventually people will learn the difference between necessity and want.
    That's what a lot of these "prices too high/monoploly/...blah, blah" rants boil down to. Although I GREATLY APPRECIATE internet access, it's not a necessity. Neither is cable TV. Until we, the shee...people, realize that entertainment is not a necessity --AND-- show the corporations that we hold the $$, get used to more of the same. Share holders gotta eat!
    Boycott or bend over.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      Anonymous Coward, 15 Dec 2015 @ 7:34am

      Re: need or want

      Cable TV isn't a necessity, but I think internet service is now. If it isn't, then it's very close to being a necessity. There's a lot more to an internet connection than entertainment. It's the primary medium for a great deal of communication these days.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Wendy Cockcroft, 16 Dec 2015 @ 2:45am

        Re: Re: need or want

        Take it or leave it is not an option. Why should consumer rights be treated as a left-wing position? It's not. In a truly free market consumers would have equal rights, not "Either try to enjoy being shafted or get up and walk away."

        But there's no such thing as a free market.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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