Cable Tech

WOW! extends Android TV-based service to nearly all subs

Tightening its embrace of Google's Android TV platform, competitive cable operator WideOpenWest has expanded its IP-based "WOW!tv+" service to almost all its homes across the US.

WOW!, as the Englewood, Colorado-based provider brands itself, announced Tuesday that it now offers WOW!tv+ to 95% of its footprint. The broadband-based service, which launched earlier this year in Columbus, Ohio, is now available in such markets as Auburn, Huntsville and Montgomery, Alabama; Augusta, Columbus and Fort Gordon, Georgia; Charleston, South Carolina; Chicago; Columbus and Cleveland, Ohio; Evansville, Indiana; Knoxville, Tennessee; Mid-Michigan and Southeast Michigan; and Pinellas and Panama City, Florida. Only four smallerm markets remain to be covered next year.

Operating on Android TV set-top boxes, WOW!tv+ is a contract-based IPTV service that features typical pay-TV packages, a big VoD library, a cloud DVR, voice search and navigation via Google Assistant and integrations with streaming apps, including Disney+ and Netflix, through the Google Play Store. The service is one of a growing number of Android TV-based offerings that cable operators and telcos alike have been deploying as they upgrade to next-gen video platforms.

With the expansion of WOW!tv+ to almost all its broadband customers, WOW! appears to have boosted its commitment to the new video service. Earlier this year, WOW! did not promote either the IPTV service or its legacy "Ultra TV" pay-TV product very aggressively, requiring customers to seek out those options on their own. Instead, WOW! focused on promoting a "Streaming TV" option for broadband customers that ties in its partnerships with four OTT-TV service providers – YouTube TV, fuboTV, Philo and Dish Network's Sling TV.

But that attitude seemed to shift in June when WOW! changed its online marketing approach to focus on broadband service after noting that "most" of its new customers sign up only for broadband. Like most cable operators and telcos, WOW! has been shedding video subscribers while gaining broadband customers over the past several years. As a result, it now has more than 800,000 broadband subs but fewer than 400,000 pay-TV customers.

"WOW!tv+ is a key component of our broadband-first strategy and helps provide even more choices for our customers," said Michelle MacFee, VP of Residential Product at WOW!, in an email response to questions from Light Reading. "We promote WOW!tv+ for the customers who are seeking a more traditional video experience with the ability to discover content curated to their preferences."

MacFee, who also referred to WOW!tv+ as the company's "primary IP-delivered video solution," noted that WOW! reported a 4.5% increase in high-speed data subscribers in Q3 compared to its year-ago results. "With WOW!tv+ launching throughout this year in our markets, we are very pleased with the number of customers who have subscribed," she said. "Our customer response validates WOW!tv+ as a key part of our broadband-first strategy as we continue to offer our customers the best available options for their entertainment consumption."

With WOW!tv+ slated to be rolled out to the rest of the operator's markets by the end of 2021, MacFee hinted that WOW! will "offer our customers even more choices in 2021 with WOW!tv+ as well as any of our other streaming partnerships." She also indicated other enhancements are on the way.

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— Alan Breznick, Cable/Video Practice Leader, Light Reading

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