Vodafone will scrap its VodafoneTV set top box service next year, giving customers nine months’ heads up to switch to an alternative.

VodafoneTV was announced in October 2017 and offers customers a TV box with access to Sky TV, free-to-air channels, and entertainment apps such as Netflix, Neon, and Amazon Prime Video.

It has no monthly cost, but customers pay for the subscription services they use, such as Sky or Netflix. 

It currently has about 100,000 customers and will close on Sept 30, 2022. 

“VodafoneTV didn’t reach the customer numbers or scale that we hoped it would and has been operating at a loss,” Vodafone spokesperson Nicky Preston told BusinessDesk.

“We would rather invest into areas like customer service, network and ICT to provide customers with great connectivity and digital services, instead of continuing to run VodafoneTV as a loss making service.”

Traditional set top boxes from TV and telco providers are seeing stiff competition from rival products such as Apple’s Apple TV box and cheaper alternatives such as Amazon Fire Stick.  

Sky indicated earlier this year its streaming service revenue growth would eclipse the decline from its traditional Sky Box. The rise in popularity of monthly subscriptions with multiple local and international streaming providers has changed consumer need and viewing habits. 

Smart TVs continue to ship with built in apps and people stream content from smartphones or tablet apps directly to TVs using technology such as Google Chromecast, negating the need for any kind of set top box.

Vodafone said it would email all VodafoneTV customers on Thursday notifying them and to offer help and advice on how to switch to a similar service. Preston said customers with Sky subscriptions would be offered help to move to a Sky service.

“Sky has some brand-new products and services that will be launching next year. In the coming months, people who are using Sky will see their VodafoneTV service moved to an all-new solution directly from Sky.”

Other VodafoneTV customers will be advised on alternative technologies such as Smart TVs, Chromecast, and Freeview.  

“Our key commitment to VodafoneTV customers is we’ll do the right thing by them by making the transition as smooth as possible,” Preston said.

Given VodafoneTV was a lossmaker, the move makes sense for Vodafone, a company that was acting as a middleman to provide content to customers from other providers. Its 100,000 customers may disagree.