After a year of procrastination and 14 years of using the Foxtel (and Austar) service we have decided to cut the cord. Usage of the payTV service had already been extremely low for many years – especially after the kids had left the home – but there were always reasons why not to do it: the occasional movie, the football championships, the quick headlines on SkyNews and the occasional TV series. For this privilege we paid $125 a month.
In the meantime we had started to use the digital ABC and SBS channels more and more – in particular I enjoy the increase in historical documentaries. At the last European Football Championship Foxtel forced me to pay yet another fee on top of my already hefty subscription, and I found out that I could actually see the games on the Internet, and I connected the laptop to the plasma screen. The fee was not large but at that point it had started to become a matter of principle.
With personal iPads and tablets in the house TV series are actually no longer watched on the main screen, so that they don’t annoy others who are not interested in them. Finally, with smart TV access via our DVR we now have access to the Quickflix movie database, which is many times larger than the limited, mainly C-rated, movie choice provided by Foxtel
We finally said that was it. We called Foxtel and out of courtesy I accepted that they would try and make me change my mind. They instantly offered me a 50% discount! But our minds were made up.
When he made that offer it occurred to me that we had been customers for 14 years and they had never called us to make an offer, give us a (football) deal or simply to ask if we were happy with the service. Doing the calculations I made the rather shocking discovery that we must have paid them over $15,000 during the length of our subscription period!
Interestingly, the latest ABI Research Technology Barometer study reveals that nearly 20% of online consumers consider online video a replacement for payTV – representing a significant risk to the traditional TV operator business of as much as $16.8 billion in the USA alone.
Like elsewhere around the globe, payTV household penetration is declining at the rate of approximately 0.5% to 1% per year and according to the ABI this is set to continue at least through to 2017. The company believes this slow migration will continue even after an economic recovery, as consumers have additional entertainment choices, such as improved online and over-the-top (OTT) video experiences.
In the same week that we cut the Foxtel cord we also swapped energy providers. AGL had offered a 15% discount. When we changed over Energy Australia (our traditional provider) belatedly initiated a hectic campaign to win us back. We had been their customers for 30 years and had never received a single customer call from them in all that time.
As we have mentioned before, the general lack of customer service is currently having a significant effect on traditional sectors – companies in the past never really had to provide customer service, as there was very little choice for customers, but the digital economy is changing all of that.
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