Rising costs have locals dropping their cable service

It's a new definition of television watchers. The Nielsen Company recently labeled those who have said goodbye to cable and satellite, the “Zero TV” crowd. With costs continuing to climb, more and more are nixing traditional viewing, and taking to the internet.

Nielsen reports there are 5 million “Zero TV” households in the U.S. – up from 2 million in 2007.

With many in the Tri-Cities fed up and giving up their high cable bills, News Channel 11's Kylie McGivern brought your questions to light and is in your corner, getting answers.

“What the cost was for the service was just too much for the amount of time that I was using it (cable),” Johnson City resident Carlos Gavilla said.

Rising costs and a shrinking wallet left Gavilla few reasons to stick with his service provider in Johnson City.

“I don't watch a lot of TV, I need it for the internet, but they were bundling both the internet and TV together as one cost, which made it seem a lot more expensive.”

Gavilla said he thinks that expense is calculated, with many turning television off, and a computer on.

“One of the biggest things is that these cable companies they know that, so they jack the rate up off the internet service because they know that most people are going to go through the internet to watch these shows and what not,” Gavilla said.

Gavilla said when he turned his back on cable, other options, were tough to come by.

“As far as the cable industry in this area, it's kind of dominated by one or two companies. So you know not a lot of competition to be able to lower the price down,” Gavilla said.

“We're not told what prices we have to sell anything for, however programming, the cost of programming continues to increase higher than the cost of living.Sso that cost has to be passed on at some point because you can't stay in business and provide all the services you need to without passing some of that cost on,” BVU Vice President of Marketing, Kyle Hollifield said.

In Bristol, there are more than two options when it comes to cable. BVU reports viewers aren't totally shutting off, but rather channeling other sources.

“The hours that people are watching TV has not decreased. What's really happening is the over the top or broadband viewing like Netflix, Amazon, Hulu, and all the others is actually becoming a compliment,” Hollifield said.

Building their own network with ultra high speed broadband, Hollifield says BVU is able to keep costs lower.

“Some of the advantages of a municipality or a city or a region having their own system, are 3 or 4-fold. Number 1, it's local. So all the dollars stay local. If you really think about it for a second, if the company is local and the company is actually in the city, then all the taxpayers benefit from that local dollar staying right there. The other thing is, you have local control. So the decisions are made on what the locality wants, not what a national company wants for that locality. So you have a little more control, again the dollars stay at home, and you can continue to reinvest in that infrastructure to make it bigger and better as you go along – therefore making the cost more stable as you go,” Hollifield said.

For those in Johnson City wondering if some similar stability is possible here, back in 2007, the Johnson City Power Board looked into providing cable services to its customers in individual households.

Robert White, from JCPB tells News Channel 11 the feasibility study indicated the infrastructure costs were the biggest deterrent. Now, they're in the very beginning stages of potentially bringing data and voice services to business customers in the area, through BVU.

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