By Laura Quirarte
In just a few short years, we have seen Cable TV become more and more obsolete as people decide to “cut the cord” and move to streaming options, that can be more affordable and personalized. Across all the assets RealtyCom manages we currently see an average of 35% of residents subscribing to a traditional Cable TV product, with the rest choosing streaming or over-the-top content options.
Consequently, RealtyCom has been proactive in speaking with many asset managers and operators who are specifically providing a Bulk (owner paid) Cable service, to help them develop a plan to eliminate or augment that service to Internet so residents continue to feel they are getting a good value from the owner.
While not everyone has decided to remove Cable service immediately, here are some practical things to consider when contemplating this decision:
Community Demographics. Collegiate housing and Urban communities are more comfortable not having a traditional Cable product as most residents are comfortable with only streaming content. Conversely, many Active Adult or Senior communities prefer to keep these services in place, as their residents may still value Cable TV. Before you make changes, consider a resident survey to learn how residents might receive this news – this could also give you valuable insight into whether residents would prefer high-speed Internet or community wide Wi-Fi to be provided by the Owner as an alternative.
Leases. If your current resident leases obligate the Owner to provide Cable TV throughout the term, you may need to plan for a de-bulk date in the next 12-14 months. Evaluating a lease expiration report is important to find the best date to remove service that limits financial obligations for the owner. We recommend adding language to their lease allowing flexibility (with proper notice) to change or stop the service during the term as this could eliminate a costly expense for the residents and owner, for a service that may be declining in value.
Once leases are squared away, notice should come from management approximately 45 days from the date to remove Cable and again 30 days prior to make sure residents understand there will be changes to the service they receive. It can be especially frustrating to hear this from a provider first so communication is key. In the notice, be sure to include the date Cable will be terminated so they have time to research options and make an educated decision, as well as if there will be any price adjustments. RealtyCom has many sample notices that can be used by our clients for this purpose.
Community Accord. Unless the Service Provider is discontinuing to offer their Cable product, and moving to a streaming only service, there’s no reason why residents who wish to access Cable can’t continue do so. There are many options including signing up for traditional services with the providers directly, or setting up streaming services, AT&T TV or satellite service. RealtyCom has information on all the various options that you can share with your residents and site teams to make the transition easy and convenient. Many owners also choose to provide common area television service in the clubhouse, fitness center or lounge areas so people can enjoy a game or show when they gather in the common spaces.
Returning equipment can also be made easier through a little extra coordination with the leasing office or community representative from the Service Provider, something we can help with during the transition planning.
If you are wrestling with concerns about keeping Cable or cutting the cord, email your account manager or email@example.com. We have experience with removing and adding Bulk services and can assist throughout the transition working as a liaison and helping draft notices to effectively communicate changes to your residents, as well as escalate any issues that may arise.