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Cox Testing TV Over Broadband, But It Eats Your Monthly Internet Usage Allowance

Phillip Dampier July 3, 2013 Consumer News, Cox, Editorial & Site News, Internet Overcharging, Online Video, Video 1 Comment

flare-logoCox Communications has found a new way to target cord-cutters and sell television service to its broadband-only customers reluctant to sign up for traditional cable television.

flareWatch is a new IPTV service delivered over Cox’s broadband service. For $34.99 a month, customers participating in a market trial in Orange County, Calif. receive 97 channels.  About one-third are local over the air stations from the Los Angeles area, one-third top cable networks, and the rest a mixture of ethnic, home shopping, and public service networks. Expensive sports channels like ESPN are included, but most secondary cable networks typically found only on digital tiers are not. Premium movie channels like HBO are also not available.

The service is powered by Fanhattan’s IPTV set-top box. Cox offers up to three “Fan TV” devices to customers for $99.99 each.

xopop

flareWatch’s channel lineup in Orange County, Calif.

The service is only sold to customers with Preferred tier (or higher) broadband service and is being marketed to customers who have already turned down Cox cable television.

What Cox reserves for the fine print is an admission the use of the service counts against your monthly broadband usage allowance. Preferred customers are now capped at 250GB of usage per month. While occasional viewing may not put many customers over Cox’s usage caps, forgetting to switch off the Fan TV set-top box(es) when done watching certainly might. flareWatch also includes another usage eater — a cloud-based DVR service. Cox does not strictly enforce its usage caps and does not currently impose any overlimit fees, but could do so in the future.

Cox’s brief promotional video introducing flareWatch. (1 minute)

Cool... usage capped.

Cool… usage capped.

Cox spokesman Todd Smith described the introduction of flareWatch as a “small trial,” and that “customer feedback will determine if we proceed with future plans.”

The service is clearly intended to target young adults that are turning down traditional cable television packages. Most of those are avid broadband subscribers, so introducing a “lite” cable television package could be a way Cox can boost the average revenue received from this type of customer. It may also serve as a retention tool when customers call to disconnect cable television service.

The MSO is selling flareWatch at five Cox Solutions stores in Irvine, Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita, and Laguna Niguel.

Customers (and those who might be) can share their thoughts with Cox about flareWatch by e-mailing [email protected] and/or [email protected] Stop the Cap! encourages readers to tell Cox to ditch its usage cap, and point out the current cap on your Cox broadband usage is a great reason not to even consider the service.

The Verge got a closer look at the technology powering flareWatch back in May. Fan TV could be among the first set-top boxes to achieve “cool” status. Unfortunately, technical innovation collides with old school cable company usage caps, which might deter a lot of Cox’s broadband customers from using the service.  (4 minutes)

Currently there is 1 comment on this Article:

  1. FrankM says:

    Cox spokesman Todd Smith needs to be told that 97 channels is not a “lite” TV subscription. And $35/month is not acceptable. Neither is the requirement that the customer needs a certain internet service tier.

    The need to compete on price with the Netflix, Amazon, Redbox , and Hulu subscribers. There should be smaller channel packages offered at no more than $8.99 a month.

    Broadcast channels should be an optional, separate package. If you are a cord cutter, you likely know what channels are available for FREE.

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