Kentucky Cable Operator Drops Cable

Barbourville Utilities logo

ACA Connects member Barbourville Utilities is cutting the cord. The Kentucky cable operator has told its customers that it is getting out of the traditional cable business to focus on broadband.

It is not signing up any new cable customers, but will help any current customers who want to keep traditional video service through a deal with Dish Network, while pointing broadband subscribers to all the over-the-top video streaming service choices available through their broadband connections.

Cable operators large and small have made no secret of their view that the event horizon for traditional cable was not a lengthy one, witness NCTA's change to "The Internet & Television Association."

Barbourville overbuilt its traditional system with fiber-to-the home — it serves an Appalachian town of about 3,500 — so it would be ready for the next iteration of service.

“While Barbourville Utilities will no longer offer cable TV service to new customers, we are not leaving our valued customers without alternatives,” the company said on its website. “With our BLINK high-speed internet service you can easily stream your choice of subscription television services, or we can help connect you to more traditional live TV via satellite.”

The Dish deal is a promise of a two-year price guarantee, free installation, and a $100 gift card underwritten by Barbourville Utilities. Not surprisingly, it is encouraging them to stick with BLINK for their broadband.

But it also points out that subs don‘t have to have a traditional service to watch TV, thanks to streaming services including Sling TV, Hulu Plus Live TV, and YouTube TV.

For those concerned about losing access to TV stations by moving to broadband-only video, the operator points out that various streaming services deliver broadcast nets and local stations, and Netflix, Paramount Plus and Amazon Prime Video, for example, have on-demand TV shows.

Barbourville Utilities is not making any recommendations saying customers should do their own streaming service research, but its chart of services for comparison shopping does call YouTube TV “one of the best services for overall live streaming” and said Fubo TV is ”great for sports.“

John Eggerton

Contributing editor John Eggerton has been an editor and/or writer on media regulation, legislation and policy for over four decades, including covering the FCC, FTC, Congress, the major media trade associations, and the federal courts. In addition to Multichannel News and Broadcasting + Cable, his work has appeared in Radio World, TV Technology, TV Fax, This Week in Consumer Electronics, Variety and the Encyclopedia Britannica.