Verizon’s traditional pay TV service is getting a substantial update, dubbed Fios TV One, which includes a new voice remote and Netflix integration.
Besides the voice remote—which will allow Fios subscribers to change the channel, search for video-on-demand programming and control their DVRs with voice commands—and Netflix, the new TV One platform is getting a Wi-Fi Connectivity feature and 4K Ultra HD support.
The Wi-Fi Connectivity feature will allow Fios users to place TVs away from coax outlets and connect extra Fios set-top boxes wirelessly to the TV through the Wi-Fi network.
Verizon’s Fios TV One is available now in the Pittsburgh, Harrisburg, New York City, upstate New York, Massachusetts and Richmond, Virginia, markets and will come to all remaining Fios markets throughout December and January.
New customers can sign up for Fios TV One with Fios Gigabit Connection and phone for $79.99 per month and get a year of Amazon Prime and an Amazon Echo (2nd generation) for free. Existing customers may upgrade to Fios TV One at no increase to their service plan, although new equipment fees may come into play.
The update is somewhat surprising, considering Verizon’s recently sharpened focus on its network and its insistence that linear TV is not a field in which it intends to play. The company has partnered with virtual MVPD YouTube TV and Apple TV to entice subscribers to its 5G in-home broadband service. And in the most recent quarter, Verizon lost another 63,000 Fios Video connections, and its total wireline revenues decreased 3.7% to $7.4 billion.
But the Fios TV One update seemingly demonstrates that Verizon is invested in growing (or at least maintaining) its traditional video distribution business. It also shows that the company has been taking notes on what its cable competitors have been doing.
Fios service is concentrated in the northeast region of the U.S., where it has to contend with Comcast and Altice USA-owned Optimum. Both Comcast and Altice USA have newer pay TV platforms with X1 and Altice One, respectively.
Altice recently updated its One platform by adding more cloud DVR functionality, access to the YouTube Kids app, the ability to use voice search on YouTube to discover videos, more 4K content and live show restart on more than 20 additional networks. Meanwhile, Comcast’s X1 has steadily been integrating more OTT video partners, mostly recently integrating Amazon Prime Video.