To our FTCtv customers:
After months of careful study and evaluation, the governing board of FTC has reached the decision to end our FTCtv offering effective as of midnight on April 30, 2020. Before this service comes to an end, we will provide you with plenty of information about your options for television service. This will include training about streaming television services that take advantage of our world-class broadband network, should you determine that option is in your best interest.
There are many factors driving the decision to discontinue FTCtv, but the main reason is simply this: It is no longer in the financial best interest of the cooperative and its members to offer this service.
To continue providing digital TV service indefinitely would require a multimillion-dollar investment in equipment upgrades. That would not be a wise use of our dollars. Here’s why:
- Most industry experts believe a vast majority of traditional TV subscribers will convert to streaming services in the next three to five years.
- We are seeing those same trends locally. Over the past five years, 50% of our traditional TV subscribers have migrated to streaming, or over-the-top (OTT), services.
Even if we did spend millions of dollars to upgrade our video headend equipment, there soon won’t be enough traditional TV subscribers to support it. And for those who did continue to subscribe, rates would have to increase dramatically to pay for the upgrades.
There are other factors involved in our decision as well and they are very important to the discussion:
- Content providers, who charge us for the channels we include in our packages, continue to make pricing decisions that seem determined to force people onto streaming platforms. This is especially true of the local networks, which charge us increasingly high rates to carry their channels — channels you can view with an antenna at no charge.
- This is a nationwide problem, which only the largest cable TV providers are positioned to tolerate thanks to their massive size and scale.
This is not the first time FTC has responded proactively to changes in technology and market realities. Years ago, we entered the satellite TV business in order to bring our members a valuable service. We did the same with cellular phone service, as well as IPTV service. In each of those instances, we provided quality, reliable service, choosing to exit those markets when circumstances changed and it was no longer in our members’ best interest for us to continue. Likewise, we are proud of the value FTCtv brought to our members for several years, and we remain committed to supporting your television viewing habits as technology changes.
Broadband Internet Access is now clearly our most important product and it is for this reason that FTC has, for the last decade, been building a network of optical fiber across our service area. This network is one of the best to be found in any city in America — large or small. We are committed to providing the best broadband service possible. Why? Because broadband is the technology that is powering the future of communications.
Streaming video services, which are replacing traditional TV at a rapid rate, depend on a quality broadband network. Satellite television now, too, depends on quality broadband. Other forms of entertainment, including gaming, require reliable broadband. Health care providers are turning to telehealth technology to improve patient care. Schools are tapping into online resources and assigning homework over the Internet. Individual workers, small businesses and large industries are connecting to remote services to operate, communicate and compete. None of this is possible without broadband. That is why we are committed to offering the best broadband service available anywhere.
Our Next Steps
We will continue to keep you informed as we move through the process of discontinuing FTCtv. Thank you so much for being a loyal member and/or customer of FTC. We are working on many plans that will help you transition smoothly to the streaming service of your choice or other forms of television service.
As always, we are committed to providing the best service possible. Decades ago, when the main need was rotary dial party-line telephone service, FTC was there. As broadband service becomes a critical part of everyday life, we are there. And we will be there for you tomorrow as your needs change, regardless of the technology needed to keep you connected.
J. Frederick Johnson
Chief Executive Officer