Telecom operator Frontier Communications is making virtual MVPD YouTube TV its main video offering, integrating billing for the live streaming TV service on users’ telco bill and offering customers discounts for the first year.
Frontier looks to be sweetening its fiber internet service and leveraging the vMVPD to keep a TV offer in the mix as it looks to attract and maintain high-value internet customers. According to a Frontier spokesperson, Frontier will continue to provide other video services but YouTube TV will serve as its main offering for new customers – offering an alternative as its fiber internet competes with the likes of cable. Existing Frontier TV customers will also have the option to switch to YouTube TV. The telco, which serves 2.8 million broadband customers (including business) in the U.S., is also offering discounts on YouTube TV.
Customers of Frontier’s fiber internet who are new to the streaming service get a $10 discount off a YouTube TV subscription for the first 12 months (meaning $120 off their first year), while existing subscribers of Frontier TV get $15 off monthly for the first year (or $180 in total) when signing up for YouTube TV. YouTube TV typically costs $72.99 per month, having just implemented an $8 price hike this month – the streaming service’s first increase in three years. The discount from Frontier is available to all of the telco’s broadband customers, but only to new YouTube TV subs, meaning those that already subscribed to the vMVPD through a different YouTube TV promotion aren’t eligible for the discount. YouTube TV itself, which competes with cable as well as other vMVPDs like Sling TV, Hulu with Live TV and Fubo, has more than 5 million subscribers.
The relationship between Frontier and YouTube TV isn’t entirely new, with the two teaming up in 2021, but now the partnership notably includes integrated billing, with both YouTube TV and internet from Frontier billed monthly by the telco. Frontier has been working to build out a fiber footprint (ending 2022 with 5.2 million passings with a goal to deploy fiber to 10 million locations by the end of 2025) and grow internet subs, including with a 5 Gig plan launched in January. In the fourth quarter it added a record 76,000 fiber broadband customers, to end 2022 with a total of 1.7 million fiber broadband subs and 2.8 million broadband subscribers overall inclusive of consumer and business.
The pairing of Frontier and YouTube TV is also indicative of a wider industry trend where smaller (often) fiber internet-focused telcos or service providers are trying to figure out what to do about video and looking to streaming bundles in part to round out their internet offering and attract or keep customers to fill those newly built broadband networks and see a return their investment from buildouts. Streaming services are a way to still give customers video options, while some service providers also potentially pivot away from struggling pay TV businesses. In a statement Frontier’s John Harrobin, EVP of Consumer, pointed to customers’ desire for one provider to serve both TV and internet, while adding the partnership with YouTube TV “makes it easier for customers to ditch cable.”
“We take our position as the un-cable provider seriously and are constantly listening to consumers,” Harrobin continued. “Many want one source for internet and TV, and that’s what this partnership is all about.”
YouTube TV offers over 100 channels including local and national live sports, a free trial period, unlimited DVR, and six individual accounts for the home streaming on up to three devices simultaneously. YouTube TV is also poised to be the home of this year’s NFL Sunday Ticket under a multi-year deal.
“Frontier is a natural partner for YouTube TV, due to our shared dedication to customer choice and flexibility,” said Tony Archibong, Managing Director of Global Product Partnerships at YouTube, in a statement. “With this next stage of our partnership, Frontier customers will be able to sign up and enjoy all the perks of YouTube TV such as unlimited DVR, the ability to watch on any screen, innovative features such as key plays and multiview, special pricing offers for NFL Sunday Ticket and the option to cancel the service at any time, all on the same bill as their Frontier internet.”
MyBundle is one of the companies working to serve as the link between broadband providers, streaming services and consumers, having inked deals with the NRTC and NCTC. Speaking to Fierce earlier this year MyBundle CEO Jason Cohen said that when it comes to broadband partners who are focused on fiber to the home or broadband-only, they’re “seeing real customer acquisition” from MyBundle, where people use the company’s tools for streaming TV recommendations alongside signing up as an internet customer with the provider.
Frontier last June already tapped MyBundle as a partner to help offer streaming TV options, while Dish’s Sling TV became the first vMVPD to integrate billing with MyBundle. It wasn't immediately clear if MyBundle helped facilitate the YouTube TV parntership.