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Google Fiber Drops Cable TV Package For New Cities

October 5, 2017, 7:48 PM UTC

Google’ super-fast Fiber Internet service, Fiber, is moving away from offering the traditional pay TV bundle. With cord cutting at an all-time high, Google said it would not bundle cable TV service with fast Internet in new cities, instead emphasizing just the Internet and the new ways to watch TV online. 

“Whether it’s through YouTube TV, Hulu, Netflix, or more specific targeted services — there are so many ways to watch what you want, when you want it,” Cathy Fogler, head of sales and marketing for Google Internet and cable arm, said in a blog post. “And Google Fiber’s superfast Internet allows customers to make the most of all these streaming choices by providing the bandwidth to use multiple devices and apps at the same time.”

Fiber has been struggling for several years, after sign ups lagged early projections and expenses, including the skyrocketing costs for cable programming, pushed the effort deep into the red. CEO Gregory McCray stepped down in July after just five months on the job.

Google lists 10 metro areas where it currently offers service, including Kansas City and Austin, where the cable bundle was included. But that won’t be the case for expansions into San Antonio or Louisville. 

And, as Fogler also noted, the cable TV side of Fiber’s package has never been a big draw. The company doesn’t disclose much information about the business, but filings with copyright regulators showed it had less than 70,000 video service subscribers through the middle of last year.

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At the same time, Google (GOOGL) and many others have rolled out cable TV-like packages that don’t require a traditional cable subscription. YouTube TV, AT&T’s (T) DirecTV Now, Sony’s (SNE) PlayStation Vue and other services are slowly attracting some of the audience that used to pay for cable, but at about half the cost or less. And purely online services like Netflix (NFLX) and Hulu are growing even more quickly (though Netflix did announce on Thursday a modest $1 per month price increase on some of its plans).

Google said it was not changing its offerings in cities where it already bundled cable TV and Internet service—at least not yet. But the company is imposing fairly big price hikes. Customers in Charlotte, N.C., will see their bill rise 15% to $150 a month for combined service, the Charlotte Observer reported this week. The price for Internet-only plans didn’t change.