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Cox's $35 'TV Economy' Tier Launches Sans ESPN

The latest flirtation with a stripped-down video subscription tier by a major U.S. MSO heads up Tuesday's look around the cable world.

  • Cox Communications Inc. confirmed a report that it has begun to roll out a US$34.99 per month "TV Economy" tier that includes local networks and about 20 expanded basic channels, including Discovery Channel and Nickelodeon, but does not include ESPN, the most expensive channel of the lot (here's the TV Economy lineup for Hampton Roads, Va.). The price also includes a rental fee for one standard-definition set-top, a spokesman said, adding that Cox intends to offer TV Economy in all markets. The move, which follows the launch or trial of similar, no-frills video packages from MSOs such as Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) and Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC), is coming into play as cable operators seek out ways to slow the flow of fleeing customers that have been hit hard by the economy or are otherwise looking for less expensive TV alternatives. (See TW Cable Launches 'TV Essentials' , No-Frills Cable TV and A la Carte Coming to Cable's Menu? )

  • Charter Communications Inc. has tapped ITV software specialist itaas Inc. to head up the MSO's deployment of Enhanced TV Binary Interchange Format (EBIF) to about 3.5 million set-tops in the MSO's 24 Motorola Mobility LLC -based digital cable systems. Itaas, which is handling components such as integration and certification testing, has helped Charter roll out EBIF, an ITV software platform capable of running on legacy and next-generation digital cable boxes, to about 1.6 million boxes in nine systems so far.

  • Comcast is blaming WTTG, a Fox Broadcasting Co. affiliate in Washington, D.C., for an uproar caused Sunday when the NFC championship game between the San Francisco 49ers and the New York Giants was interrupted by Xfinity commercials. The MSO said the untimely appearance of the ads, inserted locally by WTTG, were due to "an equipment failure at their station." Here's a clip of what viewers found so annoying when the game went into overtime:



  • Amino Communications Ltd. will use two Celeno Communications -powered Wi-Fi accessories -- Wi-Fi/Ethernet bridges and Wi-Fi/USB dongles, to help its line of IPTV set-tops boxes shuttle hi-def video wirelessly to other set-tops within reach of the home network.

  • BendBroadband has upped Wade Holmes to VP of technology. Holmes, a six-year BendBroadband vet, has been the "acting" VP of technology since September. The operator's former CTO, Frank Miller, left last year to head up Huawei Technologies Co. Ltd. 's cable product strategy. (See Meet Huawei's New Cable Guy.)



    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable



  • Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:44:47 PM
    re: Cox's $35 'TV Economy' Tier Launches Sans ESPN

    Cox is private so we don't get as much detail on how their business is doing quarter to quarter, but I'll be curious to see how Comcast, TWC, Charter and other public MSOs that have tested or rolled out these types of tiers fared in Q4. My guess is that these economy tiers are not marketed very heavily and used primarily as a save tactic when someone's about to bolt and the objection is price. Might help in a few instances, but I'll be surprised if they do enough to reverse the video sub losses completely , at least at this juncture. JB

    Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:44:44 PM
    re: Cox's $35 'TV Economy' Tier Launches Sans ESPN

    Well credit to the Fox affiliate  for owning up and shouldering the blame for Sunday night's snafu, though it didn't really say what happened, other than they are doing what they can to ensure it won't happen again. JB


     

    msilbey 12/5/2012 | 5:44:38 PM
    re: Cox's $35 'TV Economy' Tier Launches Sans ESPN

    I'm fascinated by the economy tier. Are there enough people who want cable without the sports who would be motivated by the cheaper price? I'm sure somebody's done the market research, but they're probably keeping that data pretty close to the vest. While $35 is a significant discount, it also doesn't have quite the same ring as a Netflix subscription for $7.99 (or whatever it is now), and it doesn't have the appeal of a one-time purchase. I wonder if you're right that this is more of a subscriber retention tool. 

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