Today CFU announces that we’re replacing a number of the networks we’ve carried for years on our cable service.
This decision is customer-driven. It’s a tough call. And it speaks to our view that the cable TV industry is moving in a new direction and it’s time to take the lead.
The decision we’ve made is to replace the cable channels owned by Viacom. Our contract to carry these channels expires today. For the past several weeks we’ve been negotiating to renew these channels as part of a national buying group that combines the bargaining power of more than 700 independent cable companies representing 5.3 million subscribers. We’ve also been gathering customer feedback on this channel group, through a survey mailed to all Basic Plus cable subscribers in February.
We’ve continued to receive and tabulate survey replies throughout the month of March. As of today, 35% of our customers have replied to the survey. That’s an exceptionally high response rate. By a margin of more than 2 to 1, customers told us they would rather replace the Viacom networks with new channels than face a cable rate increase.
It was always our goal to keep the Viacom channels. We expected that as the deadline loomed, Viacom would make a reasonable offer that we’d be able to accept with minimal effect on cable rates. That didn’t happen. Faced with the choice of accepting Viacom’s excessive fee increase and raising our customers’ rates, we were guided by the survey results. On April 1 we will move forward with launching replacement channels. See the channel change specifics here.
Even with the strong majority support of our customers, this decision is a tough call. We deeply regret that it will disappoint the group of customers who wanted us to keep these channels.
If you’re one of these customers, we hope you’ll find some shows you like on the new channels we’re launching. We also offer this guide for where you can watch Viacom network shows online, often at no charge.
We think cable subscribers should not pay a premium price to get Viacom shows on TV, while the same shows are available online, either for free or as part of several popular streaming services.
Today’s video entertainment landscape is in need of change. We favor a future that gives more choice to consumers and less control to media conglomerates like Viacom. We’d prefer a business model that allows consumers to choose and pay for only the TV channels they watch. Consumers need to know it’s the media conglomerates – not local, independent distributors like CFU – that stand in the way of customer choice.
CFU has prepared for the future of video entertainment by building a fiber-to-the-premises network throughout Cedar Falls.
The superior speed and reliability of our all-fiber network is made to order for the growing group of consumers who prefer to watch all of their video online. With the fiber network, we’re prepared to distribute the 4K signals of the future. We’re also moving as fast as possible to acquire online streaming rights for all of the channels we carry on our cable service, so that consumers can watch the channels they pay for on any device they choose.
Moving forward, we will continue to make community input the guiding force for our cable service. We invite your comments and thank you for choosing CFU video and broadband services.
Director of Customer Service & Business Development