Make us your home page

TV service provider Aereo is coming to Tampa Bay to nibble at Bright House, Verizon cable franchises

Is this a case of death by a thousand digital nibbles?

Tampa Bay's cable TV and Internet heavyweights, Bright House Networks and Verizon, face lots of new competitors eating away at their franchises of providing television entertainment, online access and home phone services.

The latest bite comes this week from the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Niche competitor Aereo, which operates in New York City, says it will bring its $8-a-month online TV service to Tampa Bay and 21 other metro areas by this summer.

Aereo's expansion is not good news for a high-priced cable TV industry where the customer phrase "cutting the cord" gains more credibility each year. In New York, Aereo offers 29 over-the-air channels plus Bloomberg TV. It does not offer many popular cable networks, and the broadcast networks are suing to shut it down, though they have not had much success.

Aereo's big backer should be familiar to Tampa Bay folks. Billionaire Barry Diller's firm, IAC, spun off St. Petersburg TV retailer HSN as a public company back in 2008.

"Aereo isn't ready yet to replace your cable TV service if you need reliability," says one Aereo subscriber in New York in an Associated Press review. "There are still kinks to work out. But it's a good option if you care more about saving money."

That can be a powerful selling point, certainly in post-recession Tampa Bay.

Many gray hair homes like mine still cling to bundled one-price packages of Internet/cable/phone services from Bright House or Verizon or other cable firms. But prices have crept north and are now near $150 a month.

Younger households increasingly spurn those one-price packages. They already dumped their home phones and rely on cellular service. Many skip cable TV, preferring to create their own lower-priced entertainment packages from such online services as Hulu, Netflix and Roku to watch TV shows and movies pretty much on demand. Some younger Tampa Bay viewers even watch local broadcast affiliates of NBC, CBS and ABC on their TVs the old fashioned way, free and over the airwaves — even without old style rabbit ear antennas.

"Cutting the cord" is a growing threat to the big cable providers especially during this past recession when homeowners looked anew at ways to trim expenses. At the same time, alternative providers grew. Netflix lowered its prices while Amazon entered the online movie business. And Redbox self-serve DVD kiosks spread quickly.

Most customers seem inclined to stick with Bright House or Verizon if only to maintain Internet access. In some markets, cable companies are repricing services so that must-have Internet access remains high and essentially includes cable TV, whether wanted or not.

Both firms are trying to be more nimble. Bright House's current "Hello Friend" ads reinforce its service reputation while the company pushes new home security services. Verizon's CEO, speaking at the Consumer Electronics Show, outlined the promise of more services — from health care to education — powered by an increasingly powerful online network.

Who wins? The nibblers or the nibbled? Hopefully, the best answer will turn out to be: consumers.

Contact Robert Trigaux at

TV service provider Aereo is coming to Tampa Bay to nibble at Bright House, Verizon cable franchises 01/09/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 9:24pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. The Iron Yard coding academy to close in St. Petersburg


    ST. PETERSBURG — The Iron Yard, a code-writing academy with a location in downtown St. Petersburg, will close for good this summer.

    Instructors (from left) Mark Dewey, Jason Perry, and Gavin Stark greet the audience at The Iron Yard, 260 1st Ave. S, in St. Petersburg during "Demo Day" Friday, Oct. 7, 2016, at The Iron Yard, which is an immersive code school that is part of a trend of trying to address the shortage of programmers.  The academy is closing this summer.  [LARA CERRI   |   Times]
  2. Florida's unemployment rate drops for fourth straight month


    How low can Florida's unemployment go? Pretty low, according to the state's latest unemployment numbers. The Sunshine State's unemployment rate dropped to 4.1 percent for June, down from 4.3 percent in May, state officials said Friday morning.

    Florida's unemployment level dropped to 4.1 percent in June from 4.3 percent in May. |  [Times file photo]
  3. Is sinkhole damage sinking Tampa Bay property values?

    Real Estate

    On a scale of desirability, the house for sale on Whittner Drive in Land O' Lakes would rank fairly low. It's a short sale; it sits on an unstabilized sinkhole and it's within a few miles of two houses that collapsed into a gargantuan hole July 16.

    A gated community in Hernando's Spring Hill area, Pristine Place has long been susceptible to sinkholes with nearly a third of its houses with documented sinkhole damage by 2012. Today, however, many houses with repaired sinkhole damage are selling for more than houses without any issues. [WILL VRAGOVIC   |   Times file photo]
  4. The real estate pros in charge of Tampa's $3 billion makeover are younger than you think

    Working Life

    TAMPA — Brooke May, a 36-year-old senior construction project manager, knew she wanted to work for Strategic Property Partners the minute she met some team members involved with the group's massive downtown Tampa makeover.

    Matt Davis, Vice President of Development posed for a portrait in the Strategic Property Partners office in Channelside on July 12, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. [MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  5. St. Pete Beach may loosen beach drinking rules for hotel guests

    Local Government

    ST. PETE BEACH — Drinking a beer, a cocktail or a glass of wine may soon be legal on this city's beaches, but only for hotel guests in and around their hotel's beachfront cabanas.

    Registered hotel guests would be able to drink alcoholic beverages at their cabanas on the beach under a new rule the St. Pete Beach City Commission is considering.