BBWN Bites: Free Disney+ for Verizon Subs, But It May Not Matter
Also, Nextlink OKs new opportunity, Rogers Communications gets boost from broadband, Telenor's Q3 financials and Maine tacks a surcharge on landlines.
New Verizon Fios broadband and 5G fixed-wireless access broadband subscribers will get Disney+ services free for a year under a deal that also makes Verizon the exclusive wireless partner for the House of Mouse's new streaming service. With the service aimed at nostalgic millennials and Gen Zs, some intend to get the streaming service at no charge long after this deal expires. As one Gen Z told BBWN, "I've hated Disney since they bought Club Penguin and made it bad. I'll just pirate anything I want from them."
Northeast Oklahoma businesses and residents shortly will have a new high-speed Internet service provider option: Nextlink Internet is set to break ground on an office in Enid, the first step in its plan to bring fiber-optic network technologies and FWA to rural parts of Oklahoma. It's a strategy the operator successfully used in rural part of its home state of Texas and now is expanding into Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Nebraska and Oklahoma.
Rogers Communications announced third-quarter total revenue of $3.75 billion (Canadian) (US$2.87 billion), down 1% year-over-year from C$3.77 billion (US$2.88 billion), despite a 7% increase in broadband revenue and 1% growth in cable revenue. In the quarter, Rogers' cable revenue was C$994 million (US$760 million), versus C$983 million (US$752 million) in Q3 2018. Consolidated adjusted EBITDA increased 6% and adjusted EBITDA margin expanded 260 basis points. Cable adjusted EBITDA increased by 2% this quarter, and cable margin reached 50.2% this quarter, up 40 basis points from last year.
Positive or Negative Response to Disney+
In the deep pond of streaming choices, some prospective viewers are underwhelmed at the chance to purchase Disney+ content. No doubt parents of young children will disagree.
Telenor reported Q3 earnings of 12.09 Norwegian kroner ($1.32 billion), down 7.3% from the 12 months prior, for its organic earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA). Revenue grew 0.1% to NOK29.53 billion ($3.22 billion). The quarter featured Telenor's finalization of its DNA acquisition. Because of this timing, DNA reported separately and its preliminary Q3 earnings showed its fixed-network subscription base -- broadband, cable TV and voice -- grew 6.7% to 1.225 million subscriptions (from 1.148 million nine months prior). Net sales increased 3.7% to €699.7 million ($778.45 million) from €674.8 ($750.75 million) nine months earlier.
Beginning next year, Maine will levy a 10-cent surcharge on each of the state's (decreasing number of) landlines to finance its broadband service expansion, a tax that it expects to generate between $750,000 to $1.5 million. The ConnectME Authority will supervise the fund as it's turned into small grants to address un- and under-served areas. Currently, the fund gets about $1 million annually from a 0.25% assessment on customer bills for wired communication services like landline and VoIP phones, CentralMaine.com said. Over five years, ConnectME invested $6.4 million in rural broadband, helping fund 32 expansion projects that connected about 3,000 premises.
It's the Season for Earnings
— Alison Diana, Editor, Broadband World News. Follow us on Twitter or @alisoncdiana.
Here's where you can find episode links for 'The Divide,' Light Reading's podcast series featuring conversations with broadband providers and policymakers working to close the digital divide.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will present our Cable Next-Gen Europe conference as a free digital symposium on June 21.
Charter has sparked RDOF work in all 24 states where it won bids. The cable op booked about $19 million in RDOF revenues in Q1, and expects to have about $9 million per month come in over the next ten years.
As we have for the past two years, Light Reading will stage the Cable Next-Gen Technologies & Strategies conference as a free digital event over two half-days in mid-March.
Launch of 2-Gig and 5-Gig FTTP tiers in 70-plus markets puts more pressure on cable ops to enhance their existing DOCSIS 3.1 network or accelerate their upgrade activity centered on the new DOCSIS 4.0 specs.