If you haven't heard of Prism TV yet, you're about to.
CenturyLink kicked off a major advertising campaign Thursday around the Omaha area to promote the new service, which quietly launched in late spring 2013 and is now available to about one-third of metro-area homes, with plans to make it available throughout the area by early 2016.
CenturyLink bills the new Web-based television service as a “feature-rich alternative to cable and satellite.” It's delivered around the city through CenturyLink's fiber-optic network, which the provider spent an undisclosed amount to upgrade over the past year in order to handle additional demand.
The service initially was offered to CenturyLink employees and then to select neighborhoods where salespeople went door-to-door.
In the “soft launch” period over the past six months, “we learned how much demand there is out there for another choice” in addition to CenturyLink's DirecTV satellite service and competitor Cox Communications' cable television, said Danny Pate, CenturyLink vice president and general manager in Nebraska. Pate declined to quantify the demand, saying only that it is exceeding expectations.
Prism allows customers to DVR as many as four programs at the same time, create a custom profile, watch TV on a personal device, and use a wireless box to receive a video signal on a TV placed anywhere at home, even outside.
Cox said it was first in the market to offer personalized, portable video services. Cox's Contour app launched here in fall 2013 and allowed cable TV subscribers to watch programming on their personal devices, receive personalized recommendations for shows and record up to six shows simultaneously on a DVR.
“We've been competing with other communications providers for decades and aggressively invest in our infrastructure and technology to ensure that our products are superior,” said Cox spokeswoman Gail Graeve. “Our customers are looking for viewing options that are both personal and portable, and Contour meets those needs.” As a private company, Cox does not disclose sales figures.
Prism TV is available now in various neighborhoods throughout Omaha, as well as in Bellevue, Ralston, Papillion, La Vista, Springfield, Gretna, the Elkhorn area and in unincorporated Douglas and Sarpy Counties. CenturyLink declined to provide a map of the covered areas, for competitive reasons, but said individual homeowners and business owners can go to its website to see if the service is available yet at their address. Customers can also visit the retail store at 15825 West Maple Road.
Omaha is one of about a dozen markets where Prism has launched. In November, CenturyLink reported it had added 17,000 Prism subscribers in its third quarter, for a total of 149,000.
CenturyLink hired 60 full-time technicians in Omaha to support the new service.