For Pay TV, Thin Is In

CenturyLink and Charter Communications are the latest pay TV operators to get a fix on the small-but-growing cord-cutting trend with contract-free skinny bundles that include a bevy of genre-based add-on packages.

But the approaches differ as CenturyLink pushes ahead with a national over-the-top TV offering that adds another “virtual” MVPD to the mix, while Charter stays in-footprint with a service called Spectrum Stream TV.

CenturyLink Stream, an offering that will compete with the likes of Sling TV, YouTube TV and DirecTV Now, is centered on an “Ultimate” package that starts at $45 per month for a lineup of almost 50 channels (including ESPN), features includes a cloud DVR, and several add-on programming packages and some a la carte options. CenturyLink Stream also features a second baseline “Latino” package that costs $15 per month, includes the cloud DVR, and 27 Spanish-language channels.

That service, which complements the telco’s managed IPTV service, Prism TV, eschews the traditional set-top box by supporting iOS and Android mobile devices, web browsers, Roku players, and the CenturyLink Player, an Android TV-powered device made by LG Electronics that supports HD and 4K and is being sold for $89.99.

Charter, meanwhile, is testing a IPTV service for TV cord-cutters and broadbandonly customers that starts at $19.95 per month for a lineup of more than 25 channels, including the four major local TV broadcast feeds, plus a VOD library of nearly 5,000 free VOD titles.

For $12 more, Charter’s adding a sports and news package that includes ESPN, NBCSN, ESPN2, Bloomberg Television and HLN, plus others.

Following the wider trend, Spectrum TV Stream is taking on a bring-your-own device policy, supporting apps for iOS, Android and Amazon mobile devices, Roku players, the Xbox One and Samsung smart TVs out of the chute.

Charter said it is testing Spectrum TV Stream with a “group of prequalified and current Spectrum Internet customers to see if this smaller package resonates with a certain segment of nonvideo customers.”