Media

Google Fiber TV adds Disney & Turner channels — big cable still showing no fear

Google is making some pretty big additions to its Google Fiber TV channel lineup, the company announced over the last week.

The fledgling cable TV service is getting most major channels from Time Warner’s Turner Broadcast company, including Boomerang, Cartoon Network (Adult Swim), CNN, CNN en Español, CNN International, HLN, hTV, infinito, TBS, TCM: Turner Classic Movies, TNT, and truTV.

Earlier in the week, the company announced that it had reached a deal with Disney’s television division to bring several more channels to the lineup. Those stations include ABC Family, ABC News Now, Disney Channel, Disney Junior, Disney XD, ESPN, ESPN Buzzer Beater, ESPN Classic, ESPN Deportes, ESPN Goal Line, ESPN2, ESPNews, ESPNU, Longhorn Network, Ovation, SOAPnet, TBN, TBN Enlace, and Velocity.

This is a huge win for Fiber TV, a service that’s currently only available to residents of Kansas City bundled with a 1Gbps broadband Internet service. For $120 per month, Google Fiber customers get far more than what competitors are offering. And many of the complaints against the service (besides not being able to get it if you don’t live in KC) concerned its channel lineup. But now that it has both Adult Swim and ESPN sports channels, I’m guessing the geeky, tech savvy community will have more reason to want the service.

Of course, it still doesn’t have an HBO premium content package, but it’s also barely started its business. Earlier in the month, Google announced that it had reached over 50 percent of its goal for Fiberhood signups. (A fiberhood is a concentration of residents that all agree to use Google Fiber, thus making it lucrative enough for the company to build the broadband infrastructure of the service.)

And even though Google Fiber TV is relatively well received (at least is theory) by the public, big cable companies don’t seem to be showing much fear. Please note, that’s far different from actually being afraid.

For example, Time Warner Cable CFO Irene Esteves recently said that she can’t imagine Google Fiber expanding outside of Kansas, nor did she think that the business model would make sense — estimating that a nationwide broadband network build-out could cost upwards of $200 billion all said and done.

She goes on to cite that what TWC is losing in terms of market share to Google in the Kansas City area is a drop in the bucket as well as how Verizon spent $30 billion on its FiOS network to occupy just 15 percent of U.S. homes.

Esteves, TWC, and other cable providers frequently cite the big “numbers” game when talking about the threat of competition from Google. They likely do this because deep down they know Google didn’t base its decision to enter the cable market on the numbers. It entered because it saw an opportunity to do better.

But to directly address Esteves’ commentary, why does Google need a nationwide broadband network to be successful? Also, Verizon isn’t interested in growing its broadband business, meaning someone with deep pockets (like maybe, Google?) could eventually buy it in the future.

One thing is certain though: When the former cast of Star Trek The Next Generation has a public conversation about how absolutely aggravating it is to sign up for your cable service, it’s time to reassess how you’re doing things.


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