Startup Atlantic Parlays Bundling

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Offering subscribers a low-priced digital-cable package that includes Starz Encore Group’s premium channels, Atlantic Broadband kicked off service last week in several former Charter Communications Inc. territories it recently acquired in Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland and Delaware.

The MSO — which closed on the $735 million deal in March and now counts about 256,000 subscribers — is marketing three tiers of high-speed data service and a trio of video programming packages.

“Our charge here is to take a very complicated pricing and packaging structure and simplify it,” said Atlantic chief marketing officer Chris Daly. “We wanted to make it easier to buy and easier to sell.”

Atlantic, which serves subscribers in and around Miami Beach, Fla., western Pennsylvania, Maryland and Delaware, prices its digital services at $57 to $64 per month, depending upon the system.

The package comprises digital-basic channels, digital music channels and Starz Encore’s thematic multiplex channels. Subscribers must pay $12.95 for an additional premium service, such as Showtime or Home Box Office, plus $9 more to take the other channel.

Daly said Atlantic Broadband still hasn’t signed a new carriage deal with Starz Encore, but it’s offering the programmer’s channel in the digital package nonetheless.

Charter was losing premium subscribers under the previous model, which offered subscribers Starz Encore as an a la carte premium service, said Daly.

Customers that opt for Atlantic’s “Value” programming package, which includes expanded basic channels, will pay fees ranging from $42 to $49 per month. Its “Limited” broadcast basic tier costs $12.15 to $15 monthly.

Atlantic is also offering high-speed data customers discounts if they buy bundles of either digital video or its expanded basic package.

Its “Starter” cable-modem service offers a slower 256 Kilobits speed per second at $21.95 monthly, if customers take the video bundle.

The “Preferred” high-speed packages offers download speeds of 1.5 Mpbs, and will increase to 3 Mpbs this fall, Daly said. It costs $32.95 to $39.95 per month.

Altantic’s “Max” high-speed service offers speeds of 3 Mbps, increasing to 4.5 Mpbs this fall. That package ranges from $44.95 to $56.95.

Daly said the majority of Atlantic’s plant is 750-Megahertz, and that 80% of it is two-way capable. Atlantic doesn’t yet offer high-speed data service in Delaware or Maryland, where its plant is one-way.

To get the word out about the ownership change, Atlantic began running print and radio ads on May 24, in addition to kicking off a direct mail and e-mail campaign for former Charter customers, Daly said.

Atlantic also put its logos on the former Charter field trucks, and system employees were issued new Atlantic Broadband uniforms, Daly said.