Century Link Enhances TV Service with 4 Epix Channels; Pay TV Subs Decline

CenturyLink will begin carrying Epix premium TV channels on its Prism TV platform, having reached a deal that includes four Epix channels. Subscribers will also gain access to Epix’s TV Everywhere app, which offers more than 3,000 titles.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but the multi-platform deal does include TV Everywhere access to more than 3,000 titles available from the premium programmer on Epix.com and via the Epix app.

Epix said the deal with CenturyLink marks the third to involve the top ten from NCTC (National Cable Television Cooperative) members within the last year.

It also comes amid some changes to CenturyLink’s video strategy that are well underway.

Multi-Channel News wrote that CenturyLink has already said it is de-emphasizing Prism TV, its current full-freight IPTV service that’s powered by the Ericsson Media room platform, as it moves ahead with a new slimmed-down OTT TV package that, it believes, will be more economically attractive.

Epix is a premium TV service which is a joint venture between Viacom, its Paramount Pictures unit, Lionsgate and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studios Inc. (MGM), is available in more than 50 million homes. It carries block buster movies, a few original content programs, and occasional sports documentaries. Reuters recently reported that MGM is in talks with Viacom and Lionsgate to purchase their stakes in Epix.

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Addendum:  Pay TV Subscribers Decrease

Leichtman Research Group (LRG) noted that Cable TV firms (cablecos or MSOs) lost 278,000 pay-TV video subscribers in 2016.  Comcast added 161,000, while telcos (like Century Link) lost 1.5 million, according to LRG. AT&T’s U-verse service accounted for 1.36 million subscriber losses as AT&T shifted marketing toward its DirecTV satellite TV service. DirecTV added 1.2 million customers last year, but Dish Network lost just over 1 million, said LRG.

Analyst say pay-TV industry subscribers could fall further. As cord-cutting goes on and the traditional video business for cable providers shrinks, their No. 1 product will be broadband and internet access. So even if internet video takes off, they still have broadband dominance.

Google-parent Alphabet (GOOGL) has announced YouTube TV, a $35 monthly paid subscription service. Hulu — a joint venture of Walt Disney (DIS), Fox-parent 21st Century Fox Entertainment  (FOXA) and Comcast’s NBC Universal — is set to launch yet another live TV streaming service in the spring. And, Amazon.com (AMZN) could follow in 2018. Entertainment (FOXA) and Comcast’s NBCUniversal — is set to launch yet another live TV streaming service in the spring. And, Amazon.com (AMZN) could follow in 2018.

They’ll join AT&T’s DirecTV Now and Dish Network’s (DISH) Sling streaming services.