WOW! latest telco to make YouTube TV its primary video offering

Telco provider WOW! on Monday disclosed plans to stop selling traditional video services and instead will offer virtual MVPD YouTube TV as its dedicated TV product, under a new deal with Google.

Terms, including length of the agreement, were not disclosed.

WOW marks the second major telco this year to elevate YouTube TV to its main TV offering. Frontier Communications made a similar announcement in March as it focused attention on its fiber internet product – although unlike WOW the telco said it would continue to provide other video services, but with YouTube TV serving as the primary offering.

New and existing WOW broadband subscribers can bundle YouTube TV with HSD internet, with the vMPVD charge integrated into customers’ monthly telco bill.  In addition to traditional pay TV, WOW! is also discontinuing its WOW!tv+ service. Plans call for a migration of WOW’s residential video customers and phase out of other video services starting this summer when the company will stop marketing and selling its TV services across its footprint.

Existing TV customers won’t automatically be transferred to YouTube TV, but a WOW spokesperson the company will maintain support of its current video services as the base can opt to switch to YouTube TV. WOW counted 117,000 video RGUs and 508,700 high-speed internet customers as of March 31, 2023. Its broadband network passes 1.9 million residential, business and wholesale customers.

The marketing, sales and billing integration process for YouTube TV is expected to go live this summer, but the company declined to share any information around timeframes for completing the migration and discontinuing existing video offerings.

“WOW! will follow a deliberate and thoughtful migration process, keeping its customers in mind, including special promotional offers to both new and existing subscribers,” the spokesperson told Fierce.

Details such as pricing haven’t been announced, although the spokesperson said WOW plans to offer current and prospective residential video customers special promotional pricing, without sharing specifics. YouTube TV typically costs $72.99 per month. When Frontier opted to offer YouTube TV it came with a $10 per month discount for 12 months (or $120 off the first year) for new customers and $15 per month discount for existing Frontier customers.

The move for WOW comes as other telcos and smaller video providers are putting greater focus on high-value broadband subscribers and deemphasizing expensive legacy video services in the face of rising costs and declining viewership.  As MyBundle CEO Jason Cohen has previously described to Fierce, streaming bundles offer another way for broadband-focused providers (many which are building out fiber networks they want to fill) to bring a TV option to the table to help retain and attract high-value internet customers while avoiding costs associated with legacy TV. MyBundle is one company that’s serving as an aggregator of streaming video options that, among other features, are offered through its more than 150 broadband service provider partners.

Asked about the decision to discontinue traditional video, WOW in emailed responses to Fierce, also pointed to a shifting TV ecosystem and rising programming costs, with the move marking a key change in strategy.

“It shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that the pay TV business is changing. Video content is very expensive and continues to rise unabated,” WOW said via email. “This is a strategic transformational shift in our video strategy that will allow us to deliver the best HSD and video service at the best value to our customers.”

Additionally, WOW said customers continue to value bundled offerings and have been asking for more video choice.

“Consumers have been telling us for some time now that they want more control and choice when it comes to their video experience. YouTube TV is a great partner for WOW! because they continue to innovate and invest heavily in the product,” WOW told Fierce.

To that point, this year YouTube TV will serve as the exclusive home for the NFL’s Sunday Ticket package, offering the games an add-on option as well as access a la carte via its YouTube Primetime Channels.

YouTube TV’s live streaming TV lineup offers more than 100 channels, as well as Spanish-language packages and features like multiview, the ability to hide spoilers, view real-time stats and watch key plays.

WOW also marks another service provider win for YouTube TV – which as of July 2022 had surpassed 5 million users.