DirectLink to Discontinue all EZVideo and IPTV Video Services at Noon on January 31, 2022
Aug 2, 2021 | posted by Conner Williams
As a member-owned cooperative, we strive to keep our subscribers informed of any significant changes that may have an impact on the services we provide. DirectLink members deserve to be made aware when adjustments happen in their company and why. Recent unexpected changes have occurred with our EZVideo and IPTV offerings.
Video is an expensive service to provide. Current surveys from The Diffusion Group indicate that 27% of US households plan to cut cable TV in 2021 and 40% will drop this service by 2025. An abundance of video solutions in the market today cater to multiple preferences, and subscribers have more choices than ever to customize their entertainment experience at a price where we are no longer competitive. In fact, Parks Associates reports that 78% of US households already subscribe to at least one streaming service like Netflix, Amazon Prime, or Hulu.
We do not enjoy raising members’ bills, and we do everything we can to negotiate for fair rates from content providers and technology partners. However, the changes the TV industry is facing make it extremely difficult for small, member-owned cooperatives like DirectLink to continue to offer video services at reasonable rates. SNL Kagan reports that industry-wide, the television retransmission fees just to air local broadcast channels have increased from $2.4 billion in 2012 to a projected $11.8 billion in 2022. That’s a nearly 400% increase in 10 years. In comparison, U.S. inflation for the same period was 25%. Even though we pool our content negotiations with hundreds of independent providers throughout the United States, we are unable to offer the kinds of packages and programming options at affordable prices that members want.
In addition to consistently rising fees from networks for the right to air their content, the TV industry had been undergoing changes with the technology used to deliver programming to subscribers. Our IPTV service had reached end-of-life and replacing this more traditional TV system is costly. DirectLink announced in late 2019 that the IPTV system would be discontinued at the end of 2020 but delayed the turndown so as to not incur another hardship on members during the pandemic. In the interim, the technology partner that provides our EZVideo service filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy and was purchased by another organization. This has resulted in steep, immediate price increases for EZVideo subscribers as well.
Therefore, the DirectLink Board of Directors has decided to terminate all video service offerings at 12PM noon on January 31, 2022.
This is not the news that our members would prefer to hear. We get that. We don’t like being forced to raise monthly rates or turn off an anchor service. Favorite TV shows are personal. They can provide viewers with something to share with others, perhaps teach something new, or offer a temporary escape. Our goal is not to keep our members from their favorite programs, but rather to help them find the best, most budget-friendly way to enjoy them moving forward.
As this situation progressed, we recognized this announcement may generate interest in alternative video solutions. Our team has been reviewing several popular subscription streaming TV services to help members find the best fit for their needs. We have compiled information about a variety of popular options and are ready to help members navigate all of the choices for the best solution. Many include customizable live cable and/or local channel packages at affordable prices with many of the same features and content subscribers have grown to love from EZVideo. Others offer both live and OnDemand programming. The majority of these services work over the Internet on the same device(s) used now to access EZVideo. Monthly prices for these live streaming services range from free to under $100 for the top tier of programming. Visit www.DirectLink.coop/streaming to learn more about these alternative entertainment options and find the best fit with the desired features and channel lineup.
Our goal is to provide members with as much guidance as possible through this transition. We plan to offer additional on-site tutorials to become familiar with the available services at both office locations. The first of these tutorials will be held on August 24, 2021 at 10AM in Mt. Angel and on August 26 at 10AM, 3PM, and 7PM in Canby. We will demonstrate the features and offerings of the various popular solutions and answer any questions that come up. Until then, the webpage is available at any time to compare choices at www.DirectLink.coop/streaming. Our Member Services team is also available to review members’ TV needs and provide guidance to the right mix of entertainment services, weekdays between 8AM and 5PM at 503.266.8111 in Canby or at 503.845.2291 in Mt. Angel.
Please know this decision was not made lightly and every member experience is being considered. Just like with the transition to EZVideo, we’ll be there to help along the way.
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