Google Fiber at only 84K+ pay-TV subs, analyst says, as growth slows for fading service

Google Fiber Nashville
Google's service is currently available in nine metropolitan areas.

Writing what amounts to an epitaph for a triple-play service that is still operational but no longer able to expand into new markets, MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett said that Google Fiber’s pay-TV base now stands at only 84,232, with growth slowing to nearly a stand-still.

In Moffett’s latest distillation of Google Fiber obtained from the U.S. Copyright Office, the analyst finds that the service has added only five video subscribers in the last six months of 2016 in Stanford, California. And in the Kansas City area, where 88% of Google Fiber’s base is situated, the service has added 19% fewer video customers over the same six-month period. The service’s pay-TV customer growth rate cooled from 78.8% between the second and fourth quarter of 2015 to 57.8% for the same six-month period of 2016.

As Moffett conceded: “It may not seem terribly interesting anymore to dig into the few available numbers for Google Fiber. After all, as has been widely reported, the company has more or less pulled the plug on the whole enterprise.”

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A Google rep noted to FierceCable that the Copyright Office is still in the process of inputting numbers, so the data is incomplete. 

Said Google in a statement: “We started Google Fiber to make the internet better. Our super-fast service is currently available to subscribers in nine metropolitan areas, with three more under construction or planned. Demand for fiber speed continues to grow, as more consumers move toward over-the-top streaming and skinny TV offerings.”

And Moffett also conceded, the Copyright Office figures only apply to pay-TV, which accounts for 0.1% of the entire U.S. pay-TV market, and not Google Fiber’s ISP business, which is the company’s priority. 

Still, the pay-TV growth numbers illustrate, at least to some degree, how the service is performing in the markets in which it remains. 

Google Fiber is, in fact, still growing, but slowly.

RELATED: Google Fiber’s tiny pay-TV sub numbers may explain why service is reportedly scaling back buildout

“In their existing markets, they continue to sign up customers, Moffett noted. “Just not that many—or, at least, not that many for video."

And there are markets where considerable growth is still occurring. In Austin, Texas, the service’s video base more than doubled to 5,889 customers from the second to fourth quarter. 

“The story of Google Fiber seems more or less over,” said Moffett, closing his report. “‘And they all lived happily ever after. The End.’  Fade to black.”

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