Years after rival pay-TV providers shipped streaming apps to take the place of at least some of their rented boxes, Verizon is providing the same convenience for Fios TV subscribers — but not for free.
Verizon’s new Apple TV and Amazon Fire TV apps, announced in a press release Wednesday, debuted Thursday on those platforms but come with a $20 monthly surcharge. That was not mentioned in the release and only surfaced in the online order flow, as seen in tests of ordering Fios 200 Mbps broadband and 125+ channel Fios TV plans at Massachusetts, Washington, D.C., and Virginia addresses.
Andrew Kameka, a Verizon publicist, confirmed the $20 charge in an email Thursday.
"Verizon Fios lets customers choose how they watch television," he wrote. "Equipment is included for the first TV, and customers can choose to pay to connect each additional TV using Verizon-provided equipment or connect all TVs in their house using streaming devices for $20."
Prior to Thursday’s move, Verizon had stuck to a mobile-first strategy with its Fios TV apps by offering software for iOS but not Apple TV, Android but not Android TV, and Kindle Fire tablets but not Fire TV players.
Even after the belated addition of Chromecast and AirPlay support to those apps, this positioning left Verizon an industry laggard compared to many of its largest rivals.
Comcast and Spectrum, for example, have long offered streaming apps for Apple TV, Fire TV and other platforms, including Samsung connected TVs. AT&T, meanwhile, has had a streaming-first approach since merging its wired linear services into AT&T TV.
Verizon’s approach of only providing mobile apps pushed Fios TV customers into paying $12 a month to rent a standard tuner box for the first and second set in a house, although that rate declines to $6 a month on a third or fourth TV.
Verizon’s new streaming apps still require one Fios TV One box in the household, but the company will now provide that first box for free. The $20 streaming surcharge, however, means viewers who only replace two boxes with streaming apps will pay more in this deal; savings only kick in after replacing three or more rented boxes.
With the hidden fee in mind, this move represents less of a departure from traditional pay-TV pricing than Verizon’s January 2020 adoption of “Mix & Match” pricing that decoupled pay-TV rates from broadband fees and ditched long-term contracts and fine-print surcharges for local channels and regional sports networks.
That earlier move failed to stem subscriber erosion that continued through Verizon’s latest quarter, when it reported losing 62,000 Fios TV connections, leaving 3.71 million subscribers. That Q2 drop was smaller than the declines seen in earlier quarters, but the company has now lost more than 20% of the 4.67 million video-subscriber base it reported four years ago.