Despite launching its own next-generation Contour video platform with great fanfare in 2013, Cox is now changing course and has confirmed preparations to roll out Comcast's X1 solution across Cox markets nationally in 2016.
Starting now, Cox Communications Inc. 's version of the X1 platform is available commercially in San Diego where it had been undergoing trials with employees and customers for many months. The service, which is maintaining the Contour brand, includes a cloud-based TV interface as well as a new in-home mobile app. Cox also says it has also completed field trials in its Middle Georgia market with X1, testing newer features including predictive search and Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s voice-activated remote control.
Cox has remained largely on the sidelines of the cable industry's set-top software initiative known as RDK, which is steered by Comcast, Time Warner Cable Inc. (NYSE: TWC) and Liberty Global Inc. (Nasdaq: LBTY). However, by licensing the X1 platform, Cox is now demonstrating its support for the RDK software stack, which helps to power X1 at the set-top level. (See RDK Spreads Its Wings.)
For Comcast, the deal with Cox is a noteworthy one. Not only will Comcast generate new revenue from the licensing agreement, but it will also strengthen its influence on the vendor community by spreading the X1 platform across a larger swath of the North American cable market. (See A Peek at What's Behind Comcast's Momentum.)
This is likely good news for Arris Group Inc. (Nasdaq: ARRS) and Pace plc , which are currently the primary set-top suppliers for X1. The two vendors are also in the process of merging (pending regulatory approval), which will potentially double their good fortune.
Aside from Cox, Shaw Communications Inc. in Canada has also committed to deploying X1. Shaw decided to license the platform even after spending millions to develop its own IPTV solution, which it has since scrapped. (See Shaw Licenses X1, Proves Comcast's Influence.)
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading