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Cable/Video

WideOpenWest stops promoting its own pay-TV services online

WideOpenWest is still selling its own pay-TV services, but customers must now proactively seek out those options as the cable operator pivots to heavily promoting streaming video services to new broadband-only customers.

As spotted by FierceVideo, the competitive cable operator recently halted the promotion of WOW tv+, a new IPTV service delivered to Android TV boxes, as well as its legacy set-top box-based "Ultra TV" service. Instead, WOW is now promoting a "Streaming TV" option for broadband customers that plays up its partnerships with four OTT-TV service providers – YouTube TV, fuboTV, Sling TV and Philo.

WOW said it made the change to its web-side marketing to better fit its core focus on broadband service.

WideOpenWest's WOW! tv+ service is novel in the sense that it runs on Android TV boxes and combines pay-TV with OTT content. However, like WOW's legacy pay-TV offering, WOW! tv+ is also contract-based and features relatively large programming bundles.
WideOpenWest's WOW! tv+ service is novel in the sense that it runs on Android TV boxes and combines pay-TV with OTT content. However, like WOW's legacy pay-TV offering, WOW! tv+ is also contract-based and features relatively large programming bundles.

"As more and more cable customers choose to cut-the-cord and demand more flexible options for where, when and how they consume news and entertainment, WOW! has shifted to meet those demands," a company spokesperson said in a statement. "Our strategic focus is on our broadband business and we have updated wowway.com to better serve consumers as they increasingly choose streaming services over traditional video."

"Most" of WOW's new customers are going with broadband-only, the official added.

Meanwhile, WOW! tv+, a contract-based IPTV service that runs on Android TV boxes and has been launched in markets such as Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio, and mid-Michigan, "is very much a part of our product and services portfolio that is designed to offer consumers maximum flexibility and choice," the official said.

The cable op plans to introduce WOW! tv+ to more markets and will continue to provide that option to customers who ask for it. Meanwhile, WOW will also sell Ultra TV via its call centers and sales teams to customers who want a "traditional video product" where WOW! tv+ is not yet available. Ultra TV uses devices and software from Espial/Enghouse.

Indicative of a bigger trend
Still, WOW's move to suppress the marketing of its own pay-TV services is a very clear indicator that some cable operators, particularly mid-sized and small ones, are distancing themselves from their own video offerings. Instead, they are turning toward OTT-delivered options as they put increasing emphasis on higher-margin broadband service.

Beld Internet and Three Rivers Communications are among the small cable operators that have gotten out of the pay-TV business altogether. Meanwhile, AT&T has halted the sale of its legacy IPTV service, U-verse TV, as it pushes ahead with AT&T TV, a new OTT-based option that relies on Android TV boxes. Verizon has also gotten into the act with new "Mix & Match" plans that lead with broadband and steer customers to YouTube TV as a video option rather than Verizon's own Fios TV service.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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