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Cox's IPTV Trial Flames Out

Mari Silbey
9/19/2013
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Almost as quickly as it began, Cox Communications' beta test of a new IPTV service called flareWatch has come to an end.

Cox Communications Inc. confirmed to Light Reading that the trial, which was built around Fanhattan's Fan TV experience and announced in July, has been discontinued, although the company is still reviewing results from the ground-breaking experiment. (See Cox Flirts With Fanhattan.)

A Cox spokesman said:

    This limited trial was conducted as part of Cox's ongoing customer research to determine how to best evolve our offerings to meet customers' changing needs. We remain focused on helping customers discover and connect to the things they care about in ways that are easy-to-use and reliable and we will continue to test and explore new products. We will continue to evaluate the flareWatch trial results to determine how this might impact future product plans.

Commenting on the end of the Cox experiment, a Fanhattan spokesperson said in a statement:

    The Orange County trial has successfully completed. We collected excellent customer feedback and usage data to inform our broader deployment of Fan TV. As announced in May, Fanhattan plans to work directly with pay TV service providers to distribute Fan TV. Making sure it's ready for primetime requires rigorous testing, trial customer feedback and constant iteration. This limited trial was a small, early step in that direction.

The flareWatch trial was novel because Cox bundled the IPTV service with broadband access. For a price of only $34.99 per month -- cheaper than a standard cable TV package -- subscribers received 97 channels, including top stations such as ESPN, Disney, and Discovery. The service also included 30 hours of cloud DVR storage, and used both the Fan TV set-top and Fanhattan's user interface.

Fanhattan surprised many when it launched its Fan TV set-top earlier this year and then again when it announced the pilot program with Cox. Although the Cox trial was limited, Fanhattan CEO Gilles BianRosa has said that more partnership announcements are on the way.

— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading Cable

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albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
9/23/2013 | 5:35:53 PM
Re: Short trial
Good pojnts, David and Mark. I agree that Fanhattan deserves a lot of credit for getting Cox to even go ahead with the trial. I wonder if the abrupt end now makes it more or less likely tat anothere large cable operator will try the same thing.  
David Dines
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David Dines,
User Rank: Blogger
9/23/2013 | 2:43:32 PM
Re: Short trial
I agree that we will probably not know the real reason, at least for a while.  It seems to me that the Innovator's Dilemma issue is a big factor, how much is Cox or any large public company willing to invest in a service that cannibalizes their cash cow - and how far can they go before shareholders start to complain.  This why many of the success stories come from new players like Netflix, which did not have a legacy business or a legacy business that was not that sustainable. 
MarkC73
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MarkC73,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/22/2013 | 2:22:47 AM
Re: Short trial
I would think that you'll not know why Cox would cut short their trial, unless you hear it directly from the sources.  Could be business deals, executives changing their minds, expectations not met, could be a lot of things.

I think the credit should go to Fanhattan, for getting a trial with such a big carrier when potentially there are many barriers and many other players in the market.  Of course those could be the reasons why the trial ended as well.

 

Anyone with sources, hear anything?
DOShea
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DOShea,
User Rank: Blogger
9/20/2013 | 9:31:50 PM
Re: Short trial
How bad could the customer feedback have been? Were there people complaining about paying $35 for a package with ESPN, Disney, etc, in it? This looks like one of those things for another company will have to stick their neck out first, and then there will be an industry-wide race for second place.
albreznick
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albreznick,
User Rank: Blogger
9/19/2013 | 12:10:28 PM
Re: Short trial
I'd give Cox credit for trying too. But not too much credit. How much could they have found out after just 2 months? A real trial should have lasted more like 6 months. I wonder what they will do now. Mari. who else do you think might give Fanhattan a shot? 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/19/2013 | 10:47:40 AM
Re: Hope it Lives on Somehow...
But wouldn't lower cost to the customer be the main if not only draw to a service like this?
Carol Wilson
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Carol Wilson,
User Rank: Blogger
9/19/2013 | 10:36:31 AM
Re: Short trial
Dennis, 

No one gets points for listening to Glass more than once...unless you love it the first time, the rest is just self-loathing. 
msilbey
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msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
9/19/2013 | 10:31:24 AM
Re: Short trial
Hopefully the flareWatch experience wasn't quite so discordant. ;)
msilbey
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msilbey,
User Rank: Blogger
9/19/2013 | 10:30:04 AM
Re: Hope it Lives on Somehow...
Somebody's going to do it. I don't think it will ultimately end up being a cheap alternative, but it will be convenient and probably slick on the navigation side. 
mendyk
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mendyk,
User Rank: Light Sabre
9/19/2013 | 10:28:57 AM
Re: Short trial
Well, I tried listening to Philip Glass a few times, but decided I'd rather keep my sanity. Do I get points for that?
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