By Ross Petrick, General Manager/CEO
Netflix, Disney+ and Amazon Prime, OH MY! As the number and cost of streaming services continue to rise, one thing is certain: Viewers are consuming more streaming content. According to Nielsen data from September 2022, streaming content consists of 37 percent of total viewing, while cable TV is at 33 percent and broadcast TV is around 24 percent.
Programmers still want more money for TV channels
You may have noticed that content providers are moving more shows to direct-to-consumer apps, which decreases the value of their cable TV channels.
This football season, for example, the NFL Network is only carrying seven out of 272 games. Major League Baseball aired some of their games only on Apple TV, and Thursday night NFL games are only on Amazon Prime. Disney’s Mandalorian can only be viewed exclusively online. Monday night football games are shown both on ESPN and the ESPN+ app, which further dilutes the value of the ESPN channel. Additionally, Bally Sports and Midco Sports have launched their own direct-to consumer apps.
I wish I could say that a decrease in TV content has come with a decrease in rates from programmers, but in fact it’s just the opposite. Content providers continue raising their traditional cable TV rates while reducing the programming on their traditional TV channels.
Broadcasters are no different
Over the last few years, viewing for local broadcast channels like KELO-CBS, KSFY-ABC, and KDLT-NBC has decreased dramatically while more content is moved to Paramount+, Peacock, etc. However, the retransmission fees they charge to access the local channels have increased by 31 percent, and they’re increasing again on January 1, 2023. Broadcasters are raising your rates to cover reduced viewership and advertising revenue. These higher prices and lack of ala carte options have shifted people’s viewing habits toward streaming. Those who haven’t considered streaming are left paying the bill.
In general, we’re okay with customers switching to streaming. Over the past few months, we’ve seen a substantial uptick in internet bandwidth usage as viewing habits switch to streaming, and we’re growing our capacity to meet those demands. Our goal is simply to connect our communities and customers to the world via voice, video, and internet services.
Alliance TV service transitions to streaming devices
Alliance TV is moving to the streaming world as well. This past fall, we launched AllStream Now, which is an app-based video service. With AllStream, you can watch our TV service on Amazon Fire TV Sticks, Apple TVs, and mobile IOS and Android devices rather than DVRs or set-top boxes. While AllStream doesn’t help with increasing content costs, it gives you five simultaneous streams and eliminates monthly equipment rental fees.
We’re not launching AllStream to compete with Netflix, Disney+ or Hulu. We’re moving to app-based services to continue offering Alliance TV services in a streaming world. As our set-top boxes age, they’re not keeping up with technological changes and can’t handle better signals or new features. We’re also finding it harder to purchase custom network components, DVRs and set-top boxes because of supply chain and manufacturing challenges. By moving to a more ubiquitous platform, we can offer advanced services while controlling costs and equipment availability. It’s cheaper and more flexible to move our TV service into the streaming world than to move the streaming world into our set-top boxes.
Where can I watch AllStream now?
Due to contract restrictions, most channels on AllStream will ONLY work at your home while connected to Alliance Internet. Even though Allstream can’t be viewed outside of the Alliance network, you’ll have more flexibility within your home. With AllStream, you can watch up to five different devices at one time on any TV or mobile phone within Wi-Fi coverage for only $12/month. So, you could have AllStream running on the living room TV but also watch it on your phone while in the garage. AllStream essentially eliminates multiple DVRs, set-top boxes, rental fees, and the need to run wire throughout your house. But if you’re looking for a streaming service to take with you on the road, Allstream isn’t the service for you.
How and where do I install the AllStream Now app?
AllStream currently is compatible with Amazon Fire TV Stick, Apple TV, iOS mobile and Android mobile, but we hope to expand availability to other devices soon. You should be able to download the AllStream app from the app stores and start watching as soon as you activate service with us. AllStream is meant to be a self-install service, but we’re happy to walk you through the steps over the phone.
Please note that AllStream won’t work well on smart TVs and many Roku devices because they don’t have suitable Wi-Fi antennas or processing power.
What’s going to happen to my DVRs and Set-Top Boxes?
We’ll continue supporting the boxes that are in homes today, but we’ll transition away from them over the next few years. We understand that streaming may not be for everyone, but Alliance is looking to adapt to the TV industry rather than relying on older technology to work forever.
Starting in early 2023, AllStream will be the only option for new TV customers. We aren’t installing DVRs or set-top-boxes for new TV customers.
For current TV customers, the pricing for DVR and set-top boxes now in your home won’t change. You can continue using them until they no longer work on our system or you want to convert to our AllStream service.
If you’re already a TV customer and you need to replace your current DVR/set-top boxes after Jan. 1, 2023, the following options will be available:
- You can replace your box(es) with a new model for $12/box/month. The rising costs of providing cable TV along with supply chain problems have caused us to change our pricing for new boxes.
- You can switch to AllStream Now. For $12/month, you’ll receive five streams and 80 hours of DVR, plus we’ll give you one complimentary Amazon Fire TV Stick.
What other changes is Alliance making to its TV service?
Along with these technology changes, we’ll no longer offer paid video on demand or pay-per view as of Jan. 1, 2023. Demand for paid movie rentals has decreased over the years because many titles are available online for free or for a lower cost. However, free local content, such as high school games, church services, or community events, will still be available through video on demand.
Additionally, the AllStream channel lineup will be slightly different from the traditional lineup. For AllStream only, we’re repackaging channels in our Elite package by genre to give you more purchasing flexibility and possibly cost savings. We also might consider dropping less-viewed channels to help control future price increases. Making channel lineup changes is difficult due to content restrictions.
Change isn’t always easy and often comes with a learning curve. We’re making these technology adjustments to adapt to new viewing habits while navigating higher programming costs and supply chain challenges.
If you have any questions about Alliance TV or our other services, please contact us by dialing 611 from any phone with Alliance service or (605) 582-6311.