Bell revealed its earnings report this morning, indicating that the company’s revenue has jumped by 7.1 percent, amounting to a total base of 8,468,872 postpaid subscribers.
During the investor call following the release of the telecom’s earnings, Bell CEO George Cope indicated that his company could be looking to offer customers an over the top (OTT) set-top box solution in the near future.
“We will address the OTT substitution market in the coming weeks with a new, innovative product for the market which the street will hear about over the next four to six weeks,” said George Cope.
It’s unclear exactly what Bell’s offering will be, but it could share similarities with Telus’ recently launched Pik TV media box, or which is exclusively available in B.C. and Alberta. Mixing streaming services like Netflix with live television, Pik TV allows viewers to select channels they actually want rather than pay for a bundle that features content they rarely watch. Twenty-three base channels are included in the platform’s basic package for a price of $20 a month. Taking a different route, Bell may also offer a slimmed-down version of its Fibe TV IPTV platform
With cord cutting — not subscribing to a traditional cable service and instead relying on apps to consume content – on the rise, Canadian carriers are looking for ways to adapt to the changing Canadian market. Rogers recently revealed that its IPTV offering designed to compete with Bell’s Fibe TV and Telus’ Optik TV, will launch in “the first quarter of 2018.”
Bell also recently trademarked a mobile-focused VOD service called SnackableTV that aims to offer ‘video on demand transmission services,’ so it’s also possible Cope’s comments could pertain to this still unannounced upcoming platform.
In 2016, approximately 202,000 Canadian TV subscribers ditched their cable or satellite packages, an increase of between 30,000 and 40,000 from the prior year, according to Ottawa-based research firm Boon Dog Professional Services. Another study conducted by Convergence Research Group predicts a decline of 247,000 Canadian television subscriptions in 2017, an increase from 220,000 in 2016.
While Shomi, a streaming service owned by both Rogers and Shaw, recently shuttered, Amazon Prime Video entered the market just a few months ago, giving Canadians access to exclusive streaming content like Man in the High Castle.
A device that’s capable of offering live television, coupled with traditional streaming apps like Bell’s own CraveTV, Netflix and Amazon Prime Video, is a compelling offering, especially if a relatively affordable price tag is attached to the live television subscription service.
Update 04/26/17 3:11 p.m.: An anonymous tipster reached out to MobileSyrup regarding Cope’s comments, stating that the new service will be called ‘Fibe TV Alt’ and that it has a starting price point of $14.95, with add-on channels being priced at $4 and $7, possibly sold in small bundles.
The app will be available on iOS, Android and Apple TV, as well as Fibe TV’s website, though the tipster also mentions that other platforms could be included as well. The service will only be available in Quebec, Ontario and Atlantic provinces where Bell has an IPTV license. Subscribers must also have one of Bell’s unlimited internet plans, making this still unannounced platform far from ideal for cord cutters. Finally, the tip indicates that the service won’t be available in 4K and that quality will max out at high-definition.
Update o4/26/17 5:57 p.m.: In an interview with The Globe and Mail‘s Christine Dobby, Cope said, “In essence, it’s an app-based TV service that is in our traditional TV footprint,” informing Dobby that the company will offer the new product in areas where it has a licence for its Internet protocol television (IPTV) service: Ontario, Quebec, the Atlantic provinces and Manitoba.
Cope also stated that the new service “will target those who have cut the cord, those who have moved to the OTT market,” adding, “It is a recognition that there’s a marketplace developing for the consumption of video service through non-traditional methods.”