Saturday, September 20, 2014 · 3:56 a.m.

Web television programming vs. cable

Customers, cable companies adapt to changing industry

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Some people are leaving cable companies and opting for services such as Netflix. (Photo: Contributed)

With the advent of Web-based services, such as Netflix and Hulu, the number of cable subscribers is on the decline.

And that means different things for local companies.

Local Comcast leaders said company officials have worked hard in the past year to give customers more features and options, some of which are similar to the Web-based services.

EPB offers more than only cable services, and the company’s high-speed Internet is ideal for accessing Web television-viewing sites.

So, EPB leaders don’t see Netflix and Hulu as competition, spokeswoman Danna Bailey said.

“We’re happy if customers want to access video content through their Fi-TV service or their Fi-Speed Internet service—however they want to do it,” she said via email. “Because it is so fast, our Fi-Speed Internet product is ideal for streaming content from Netflix or similar sites. In fact, EPB fiber optics customers can access super HD content from Netflix using our network.”

Click here for more information about the super HD content.

Reuters reported that the country’s largest cable provider, Comcast, lost 117,000 video customers in the third quarter of 2012.

But the company still has more than 22 million customers.

Also according to the Reuters article, the number of households subscribing to paid television services decreased by 1.5 percent in 2011. That’s 1.5 million people.

Jim Weigert, local vice president and general manager of Comcast, said that company leaders don’t release market-specific subscriber information but that Chattanooga is a growth market.

New Comcast products and features help Comcast compete with Web-based outlets, he also said.

“New products and developments have continued to add value for customers who like options on where, when and how they watch their entertainment," he said. "And no one in Chattanooga is innovating faster than Comcast. In the past year, we launched many new products to customers, and in many cases, they were included at no additional charge.”

The Reuters article pointed out that some programing, such as live news and sporting events, aren’t easily accessible on sources such as Hulu or Netflix.

“It also details how you cannot find one place for all your needs, you may have to buy new equipment and there are several other disadvantages to only using the Web as your entertainment provider,” Weigert said.

“Comcast will continue to introduce products and services that give customers choices where, when and how they want to be entertained, and no one else can provide the breadth and depth we can to customers," he said. "As those wants and needs continue to evolve, we are ready to continue to provide awesome solutions for customers.”

When Chattanooga resident Amy Martin moved into a new home, she didn’t get cable in an effort to save money.
And then she noticed that she didn’t miss it.

“Now, I watch Hulu and buy DVDs from McKay's and Amazon,” she said via email. “I also catch the newer episodes of shows on their respective websites.”

But she also doesn’t use Netflix enough to warrant a subscription.

Representatives from Netflix couldn't be reached Friday. Hulu leaders declined to comment but directed readers to this blog about the company's 2012 growth.

And she said the recession has forced people to define the difference between wants and needs.

“Food, rent, clothes and a car payment became much more important than a DVR and specialty cable channels,” she said.” Hopefully, as the economy improves, we all will continue to make smart choices and live within our means, which for some may mean making the choice to watch ‘free TV’ instead of paying an astronomical monthly bill for cable.”

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