& cplSiteName &

Cox Eyes IPTV Service

Mari Silbey
11/4/2013
100%
0%

Despite cutting short its recent trial of Fanhattan’s Fan TV service, Cox Communications is planning to launch an IP video service for broadband subscribers that could closely resemble that trial.

Cox Communications Inc. CTO Kevin Hart told Fierce Cable that the third largest US MSO has a virtual cable video service under development that, like the aborted flareWatch trial, would deliver TV channels over IP. He also said that Cox received positive feedback from the flareWatch trial and that it is now in the "trial post-mortem evaluation phase."

What Hart didn't spell out, though, is how Fan TV fared in the flareWatch experiment: what consumers liked about it and what Cox and Fanhattan LLC learned from the trial. Despite the spotlight on flareWatch, useful information has been scarce. But now some details are emerging.

Fan TV on trial
The Cox flareWatch trial this summer captured the cable industry's attention for two important reasons. First, it introduced the Fan TV experience, which was built around start-up company Fanhattan's streaming hardware and custom user interface. Second, it bundled Cox broadband service with an IP video streaming package, a novel approach in an industry where TV service is typically separated from Internet delivery. (See Cox's IPTV Trial Flames Out.)

As a concept and a demo, Fan TV has gotten rave reviews. Tech editors have praised the design of Fanhattan's set-top box, the look of the Fan TV on-screen interface, and the functionality of the touch pad remote control. Recently Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) General Manager Mike Angus even told Light Reading that he (not speaking on behalf of his company) personally loves the product, and that he thinks Fanhattan's approach is "spot on… an intuitive way to bridge the CE and pay-TV world."

In conducting its Fan TV trial, Cox was mainly seeking user feedback. In an email, a Cox spokesperson explained that the MSO tried out the service on two groups of customers, "a very small group of friendlies that we personally interviewed a couple of times and then a larger commercial group of trial participants who we asked to participate in a written survey (but not all participated)." The spokesperson said the MSO was "looking for feedback on the concept and experience, although we were trying to distinguish between experience elements that were inherent to the longer term product and value proposition (e.g., Did they like the buttonless touch remote?) vs. those that were simply a function of this being a very early stage beta (i.e., did the product have any tech bugs). Also, we were looking for feature and functionality improvement suggestions."

While Hart says Cox received positive feedback from the flareWatch trial, at least one participant was not very complimentary. Speaking on condition of anonymity, this user described to Light Reading numerous problems with the Fan TV UI.

The user called the interface beautiful, but cumbersome, and said the remote was disorienting. He detailed his difficulty in jumping back and forth between different content options and cited a lack of navigational shortcuts that could have made the UI more user-friendly. He had additional issues with the search function and disliked many of the on-screen graphic effects, which he felt further impeded usability.

The remote control created even more of a challenge. According to the flareWatch user, interaction with the TV through the remote was not intuitive, and if the remote was held askew, it didn’t always respond accurately. "It felt nice in the hand, but didn’t really work," he said. Overall, he concluded, Fan TV was "very tiresome to use."

Cable companies weigh in
Now that Cox has said it will launch a commercial product, the claim that it was primarily testing the Fan TV interface, and not whether to move forward with IP video, holds more weight. Cox hasn't said if it will move forward with Fanhattan as a partner, but it likely has a better idea of what it wants to do after collecting user feedback.

Cox isn't the only cable operator exploring options for bundling broadband with IP video. Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has introduced services that combine Internet delivery with a limited line-up of regular TV channels, and added access to HBO/HBO Go and Comcast's StreamPix streaming video product. Although traditional television is still part of the package, the focus is as much on the IP video features as the standard TV service. (See Comcast Set to Bundle Broadband & HBO)

IHS Inc. analyst Erik Brannon thinks there's a knock-on benefit to cable's increasing interest in IP-delivered TV service. While there may not be significant room for growth in the pay-TV market, Brannon believes the TV Everywhere trend as a whole can win subscribers back into the cable fold.

"What we're doing with TV Everywhere is we're training people back into the behavior of purchasing pay-TV," said Brannon. "I think that TV Everywhere has a significant opportunity to win back… the population of people that we consider to be cord-nevers… if you reach them when they're young enough in the household, with great enough variety and convenience."

If there's one thing that is clear, it's that cable companies do want to deliver a richer TV experience. Between IP video services, new advanced program guides, and cloud DVR features, cable operators are working overtime to compete with over-the-top (OTT) video players and other pay-TV providers.

Whether Fan TV ultimately plays a part in that effort remains to be seen.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

(4)  | 
Comment  | 
Print  | 
Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View        ADD A COMMENT
albreznick
100%
0%
albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
11/4/2013 | 8:48:38 PM
Re: Courting the "cord-nevers"
Wow, that's quite a story. I hope you paid your son some commissions for his fine work. :) Anyway, I don't think cable can really draw in the cord-nevers until it drops its insistence that people still take video subscriptions too. I mean, what's the point of getting a broadband video package if you still have to pay for the traditional video package? There's no incentive there.  
bigggtom
100%
0%
bigggtom,
User Rank: Lightning
11/4/2013 | 5:35:21 PM
Re: Courting the "cord-nevers"
Is this a blink? When we started the first video over dsl in the late 90s, competing with cable seemed a pipe dream. It paid well, but it was hard to really believe. We came up with a slogan "Turn your copper into Gold". It was my idea to gold plate thousands of pennies and hand them out as reminders. I taught my 3 year old son a speech, gave him a pocket full of gold pennies and released him in trade shows. He would catch the eye of an adult, walk up and put a penny in their hand, and say, "Wanna turn your copper into gold? See my daddy." My son is now in engineering school, but many guys still have their gold pennies.
msilbey
50%
50%
msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
11/4/2013 | 12:24:10 PM
Re: Courting the "cord-nevers"
Very good point. And cablecos are experimenting with lower-priced tiers, at least for an initial promotional period. Strategy: Hook consumers at an introductory rate with a cool product, and then reel'em in later with higher prices.
Carol Wilson
100%
0%
Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
11/4/2013 | 12:00:10 PM
Courting the "cord-nevers"
If cable is hoping to design an IP video product that convinces those who haven't yet started paying for TV to develop that habit, it will have to be a very inexpensive offering. I'm assuming that audience isn't at the center of an IP video strategy, however, and it will be interesting to see how Cox's intentions play out and what the servcie looks like. 
From The Founder
Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
Flash Poll
Live Streaming Video
Charting the CSP's Future
Six different communications service providers join to debate their visions of the future CSP, following a landmark presentation from AT&T on its massive virtualization efforts and a look back on where the telecom industry has been and where it's going from two industry veterans.
LRTV Interviews
CenturyLink: Are We All Security Service Providers Now?

5|29|17   |   3:40   |   (0) comments


As the security environment gets more threatening, in the wake of WannaCry and other attacks, service providers need to shoulder more responsibility for securing networks, says Tim Kelleher, vice president for IT security services at CenturyLink, in an interview at the Light Reading Big Communications ...
LRTV Documentaries
Verizon's Ed Chan on the New World for Networks

5|29|17   |   19:08   |   (0) comments


In this 2017 Big Communications Event keynote, Ed Chan Senior Vice President, Technology, Strategy and Planning, Corporate Networking and Technology, Verizon, discusses the coming world of sensors and the smart edge, powered by new spectrum and faster fiber uploads. For more BCE coverage and videos,
LRTV Interviews
Zayo's CTO: Respect the Infrastructure!

5|29|17   |   3:04   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, Zayo's CTO Jack Waters talked about infrastructure and the changing customer landscape for network providers. While everyone else is chatting up applications and services, Waters urges the industry not to downplay the role that ...
LRTV Interviews
AT&T: Creating Dynamic Networks to Meet Business Needs

5|26|17   |   4:24   |   (0) comments


As enterprises need more dynamic networks, service providers need to deliver on-demand, virtual services to meet those needs. AT&T is creating a networking fabric to mix-and-match SDN technologies for enterprise customers, says Roman Pacewicz, AT&T senior vice president for offer management and service integration, in an interview at Light Reading's
LRTV Interviews
EdgeConneX on Industry Headwinds & Tailwinds

5|26|17   |   2:41   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017, EdgeConneX CTO Don MacNeil discussed the value of partnerships in the digital world.
LRTV Documentaries
4 Steps Toward a Higher Network IQ

5|26|17   |     |   (0) comments


At the Big Communications Event in Austin, Texas, EXFO CEO Philippe Morin explains how sensors and analytics can boost a network's intelligence and enable on-demand customer experiences. Find more BCE 2017 coverage here.
LRTV Interviews
BT's McRae Sheds Light on 4K Strategy

5|25|17   |   4:45   |   (0) comments


At Light Reading's Big Communications Event 2017 in Austin, Texas, BT Group's Chief Network Architect Neil McRae talks about what it took for BT to broadcast live sports in 4K. Catch up with all our BCE coverage at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
From the Founder
How the NIA Aims to Advance NFV

5|25|17   |   08:07   |   (1) comment


Following a recent board meeting, the New IP Agency (NIA) has a new strategy to help accelerate the adoption of NFV capabilities, explains the Agency's Founder and Secretary, Steve Saunders.
LRTV Custom TV
Better Solutions That Address Growing Scale

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


For Comcast, the X1 rollout and 17-fold increases in broadband speeds in the past 16 years are among factors driving the need for Energy 2020 solutions that reduce cost and consumption, says Mark Hess.
LRTV Custom TV
Ethernity Network Delivers Instant Offloading of Network Functions With All-Programmable Intelligent NIC

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


David Levi, CEO of Ethernity Networks, explains that programmability of the hardware makes the company's All-Programmable Intelligent NIC uniquely beneficial for communications service providers that need advanced data appliances with agile support of virtualization. Utilizing the company's patented network processing technology, Ethernity offers data path ...
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Vodafone Gets Obsessed With Cloud-Native

5|25|17   |     |   (0) comments


Vodafone's Matt Beal updates us on Project Ocean and explains why simple virtualization isn't enough of a goal for network transformation. Catch up with other BCE 2017 keynotes and news at http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
LRTV Documentaries
BCE 2017: Intel's Take on Network Transformation

5|24|17   |     |   (0) comments


In this BCE 2017 keynote, Lynn Comp discusses Intel's vision for areas such as analytics, automation and service assurance. For more videos and BCE coverage, see http://www.lightreading.com/bce.asp.
Infographics
With the mobile ecosystem becoming increasingly vulnerable to security threats, AdaptiveMobile has laid out some of the key considerations for the wireless community.
Hot Topics
Cities Clamor for More Clout at FCC
Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, 5/23/2017
What's Blocking 4K TV Today
Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading, 5/22/2017
Sonus & Genband Finally Combine to Form $745M Company
Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, 5/23/2017
Like Us on Facebook
Twitter Feed
BETWEEN THE CEOs - Executive Interviews
One of the nice bits of my job (other than the teeny tiny salary, obviously) is that I get to pick and choose who I interview for this slot on the Light Reading home ...
TEOCO Founder and CEO Atul Jain talks to Light Reading Founder and CEO Steve Saunders about the challenges around cost control and service monetization in the mobile and IoT sectors.
Animals with Phones
What Brogrammers Look Like to the Rest of Us Click Here
Live Digital Audio

Playing it safe can only get you so far. Sometimes the biggest bets have the biggest payouts, and that is true in your career as well. For this radio show, Caroline Chan, general manager of the 5G Infrastructure Division of the Network Platform Group at Intel, will share her own personal story of how she successfully took big bets to build a successful career, as well as offer advice on how you can do the same. We’ll cover everything from how to overcome fear and manage risk, how to be prepared for where technology is going in the future and how to structure your career in a way to ensure you keep progressing. Chan, a seasoned telecom veteran and effective risk taker herself, will also leave plenty of time to answer all your questions live on the air.