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Cable op has quietly launched the Contour Stream Player, Cox's twist on Comcast's Xfinity Flex video streaming product for broadband-only subs.
September 18, 2019
Cox Communications appears to be the first Comcast X1 syndication partner to deploy a video streaming/smart home combo service tailored for broadband-only subs and other customers who have otherwise cut the video cord.
Cox, which had hinted in March that it was developing its own version of Comcast's Xfinity Flex product, has introduced (without much fanfare) the Contour Stream Player.
Like Comcast's version, Cox's offering also employs an IP video client that connects to an MSO-supplied gateway and integrates whole-home WiFi and smart home capabilities alongside OTT-delivered services such as Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, YouTube and ESPN3. While those devices carry Cox's branding, they use the same hardware design as Comcast's Xi6 video client box and XB6 advanced DOCSIS 3.1 gateway.
Figure 1: As an X1 syndication partner, Cox is using the same hardware design and underlying software platform for the Contour Stream Player that Comcast uses for its Xfinity Flex product.
Cox currently sells the Contour Stream Player as a $5 per month add-on. Those customers are also required to take the Cox Internet Essential tier (which starts at 30 Mbit/s downstream and is currently being sold at a discounted rate of $39.99 per month) at a minimum, and Cox's "Panoramic" whole-home WiFi service.
Cox went nationwide with its X1-powered Contour pay-TV service in the spring of 2018. Cox added the streaming-focused Contour Stream Player product "a few months ago," an official said.
For now, Cox has not followed Comcast by offering the Contour Stream Player for free to its broadband-only customers. But the door to that appears to be open. "[W]e are always exploring different options that provide more choice and address diverse customer needs," a Cox spokesman said via email.
Three Canadian cable operators -- Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications and Videotron -- also syndicate X1 and have been asked if or when they intend to offer Flex-like products to their broadband-only customers. On a press call earlier today, Matt Strauss, EVP of Xfinity Services at Comcast Cable, said there is interest from X1 syndicates to develop and launch products like Xfinity Flex.
Charter Communications has also shown interest in licensing pieces of X1. An industry source familiar with those discussions said earlier this year that Charter is particularly interested in Comcast's voice navigation technology and has taken a close look at Comcast's Flex offering.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
Senior Editor, Light Reading
Baumgartner also served as Site Editor for Light Reading Cable from 2007-2013. In between his two stints at Light Reading, he led tech coverage for Multichannel News and was a regular contributor to Broadcasting + Cable. Baumgartner was named to the 2018 class of the Cable TV Pioneers.
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