Broadstripe is offering consumers the deal of a lifetime.
The Charlotte, Mich.-headquartered cable operator last week instituted “Broadstripe Forever,” a first-of-its-kind price guarantee program for its bundle of (V)ideo, high-speed (I)nternet access and (P)hone services — or VIP. Under this plan, Broadstripe is presenting new and existing customers in its Michigan, Maryland, Washington and Oregon footprint, a contract-free, triple-play package for $130 per month — for life.
Initiating the promotion on Aug. 3, Broadstripe, the former Millennium Cable, will run the program into October, before evaluating its performance and then determining whether to extend it further.
Early returns have been encouraging, according to Broadstripe chief commercial officer Tony Lent.
“People are calling up in disbelief and asking us to repeat the deal,” said Lent, a former vice president of sales and marketing for Comcast in Michigan. “It’s been a combination of customers. There have been some moving into new houses, who like the price predictability, and a number of analog customers trading up to a digital play.”
Positioning Broadstripe Forever as “the best available value in home communications and entertainment,” Lent said that other providers, Sprint and Comcast in select areas, have offered lifetime price guarantees for high-speed Internet service, but this is the first salvo to bring video into the equation.
“No MSO has offered a lifetime price guarantee when it comes to video,” he said.
For the past 13 months, Broadstripe has been pitching a $99 per month triple play of Internet, unlimited phone service and digital basic, comprising 117 channels.
The current gambit, Lent said, is aimed in large part at satellite-video pricing, which the operator’s research pegged in the $80 and $70 monthly range for DirecTV and $70 for Dish Network, respectively.
The operator views Broadstripe Forever as both a retention and an acquisition tool.
“We believe this is a very good value where we’ll keep customers and attract new ones, so we’re willing to take the risk of incurring incremental programming price increases,” Lent said. “One of the biggest dissatisfaction points for customers and call-center activity points is when the great short-term promotional period rolls off. We’re also making this understandable on the bill; it’s standardized and predictable.”
Lent said the fact that Broadstripe Forever can be bought sans contract also will prove to be a differentiator.
“People that may have tried us before will come back,” he said. “Or for those who never have, this will be an opportunity to try our improved technology.”
Before embarking on the program, Broadstripe, which entered into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in early January, had to upgrade its plant. The recapitalization of Broadstripe, which expects to emerge from reorganization by year-end, helped finance system upgrades across its footprint.
After spending “tens of millions of dollars” on enhancements, 30% of Broadstripe systems are now supported by plant with 860 megahertz, 25% with 750 MHz, 30% at 625 MHz and the balance at 550 or less. As a result, the operator says the vast majority of its customers can now download at speeds as fast as 15Mbps and upload as quickly as 2Mbps.
“The worst thing you could do is offer a great promotion and then have the product not work,” said Lent.
Broadstripe is supporting the program with a multimedia campaign encompassing cross-channel spots, radio and spot TV broadcast buys in Seattle and Lansing, Mich. There are also communications through bill stuffers and direct mail pieces, according to Lent. Consumers are being encouraged to call 1-877-4TV-4EVR or visit broadstripeforver.com .
While Lent said the first few days of the program has also benefited from word of mouth and people saying, 'Huh?’ when they find out about the offer, Broadstripe wants to take a longer view, past the initial excitement and August, which is often a transitional period for families relocating and getting ready for a new school year.
“We’re going to go into the beginning of October and see how it performed overall,” he said.