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Cox Targets Cord-Cutters With Internet TV Test in Southern California (Variety Exclusive)

Operator offering beta version of lower-priced flareWatch service with 97 channels, cloud DVR service and Fan TV set-top

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by Todd Spangler, courtesy Variety

Cox Communications is the first major U.S. pay TV operator to explicitly aim at cord-cutters, launching a test of a lower-priced TV and cloud DVR service in Orange County, Calif., delivered over its broadband pipes.

The operator’s flareWatch service is $34.99 per month, with access to 97 live channels and 30 hours of network DVR storage. The service is currently available to Cox broadband subscribers in the Orange County market.

The flareWatch service is part of “a small trial” in the area, according to Cox spokesman Todd Smith. “Results and customer feedback will determine if we proceed with future plans,” he said.

The Cox Internet TV service uses Fanhattan’s Fan TV set-top, which provides iPad-like navigation via a touch-sensitive remote control that has no buttons. Subscribers can connect up to three Fan TV boxes, which cost $99 each, to the service. While it’s unlikely that Cox or any other pay-TV provider will adopt the approach to deliver their primary TV services, Fan TV and similar boxes could find a home on the Internet streaming front.

FlareWatch does not provide access to over-the-top streaming-video services, such as Hulu or Netflix.

“Finally, a simpler, easier way to get the entertainment you love,” Cox says in a promo for the service.

Cord-cutting has been a growing concern among pay TV providers, which risk losing price-sensitive video subscribers who instead opt for free, over-the-air TV and cheaper streaming options like Netflix.

One of the key attributes of Cox’s flareWatch is that it delivers a healthy mix of popular programming but at a lower price than traditional cable TV packages.

Beta version of flareWatch provides local broadcast TV and cable nets such as ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Fox Sports West, TWC SportsNet, CNN, CNBC, Nickelodeon, A&E, Discovery, Bravo, USA, TLC, MTV, Fox News Channel, FX, Food Network and Syfy. About 60 of the channels are in HD, according to Cox.

Ordinarily, to get most of those channels, subscribers must purchase Cox Advanced TV service with 300-plus channels, regularly priced at $63.99 per month.

Cox does offer a $24.99-per-month TV Economy package, but that excludes regional sports nets and most of the cable channels in the flareWatch lineup. Nets available in TV Economy include CNN, Nickelodeon, Discovery, History, Fox News, Food Network and USA.

While it is experimenting with Internet-delivered television, Cox is more focused on rolling out the personalized Trio video guide across all its markets along with a related tablet app for in-home streaming video, set to launch later this summer, according to Smith.

Cox’s Flare brand also includes “MyFlare,” a cloud-based media storage service the operator launched in April for hosting personal photos, videos, music and documents. Future offerings in the Flare family are slated to include streaming music and games, according to the MSO.

Privately held Cox is the third-biggest U.S. cable operator, with an estimated 4.5 million video customers.

Cox is providing demos of flareWatch at its five retail Solutions Stores in Orange County, according to the operator’s website.

Thank you, TiA

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2 comments on “Cox Targets Cord-Cutters With Internet TV Test in Southern California (Variety Exclusive)

  1. truthspew
    August 11, 2013

    The issue is, Cox ALREADY delivers the content via an IP stream. If you look at the newer Motorola and Cisco cable boxes they’ve got two things in them, a cable modem and a codec to stream the video out to the HDMI and Component ports.

    In my case I have Cox’s ‘package’ of net, phone and Advanced TV. Want to know how that package breaks down? It’s $93 a month for Advanced TV. The net service is just shy of $25 and the phone $30.

    Now prior to this all I had was the net service – and it was scraping $70 a month.

    So now we know the REASON people are cutting the cord. They keep screwing with us on pricing to maximize profit.

    • techinamerica
      August 11, 2013

      There are millions of folks living without cable happy using Netflix, Aereo and Internet TV. Conversely, it is seemingly the disappearing middle-class who always gets the ass-kicking on these types of subscripton services. Unless your pockets are deep, cable can be exhorbitantly priced forcing a “cutting of the cord.” Be optimistic, competition is getting stiffer, consequently affecting current price points to a degree all cable companies will find themselves forced to reduce costs or lose customers. If you’ve noticed, CBS was blacked out by Time Warner in a few markets, prompting folks to try new services signaling the beginning of a greater movement. Good day!

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