The rise of broadband and the threat of cord cutting seemed to be the perfect recipe for Google to enter into a market and attract cable subscribers to its fast internet pipeline. First launched in Kansas City and then pushing out to other markets, Google was the big new entrant that could truly upset the apple cart. But for all the significant investment and buzz, the results have been less so.
According to Multichannel, "Google Fiber ended 2015 with just north of 53,000 video subs, according to a blog post from MoffettNathanson analyst Craig Moffett that pointed to fresh data from the U.S. Copyright Office." Cable operators must be heaving a sigh of relief. As other overbuilders have learned, it is hard to come into a community and take from the incumbent. Was the deal not enough for consumers to switch? Did the marketing message fail to hit its mark? Or are we looking at a quiet launch, and the numbers don't yet fit the potential?
The other thing to note, is that the Google Fiber number reflects the launch of video subscribers and does not report broadband customers. Regardless, cable operators in these markets shouldn't laugh too hard. Google has deep pockets and has shown a willingness to invest in projects for long term outcomes. The fight may have started slow, but it is likely to be a lot more rounds.