Cox is showing its kid-friendly side.
Under the brand name Flare Kids, Cox Communications Inc. has introduced a new mobile video service that aggregates kid content from ten networks and programmers in a single, parent-controlled app. None of the content is specifically licensed for the service. Instead, Cox is billing the app as a search and discovery tool that helps families find kid-oriented programming already available for free online.
Content includes commercial-free programming from sources like PBS Kids and the Disney Channel, and the app is free to download. Additional in-app purchases allow users to personalize the experience with different app themes.
Variety was the first to report on Flare Kids and says there's more content to come, including e-books, games and music. Parents can block content they don't want children to see and set time limits for use. A Cox spokesperson confirms that an Android version of the app is also on its way.
Cox has used the Flare brand for other experimental services, including the short-lived flareWatch IPTV trial and a gaming service called flarePlay. (See Cox's IPTV Trial Flames Out.)
The company has never seriously promoted its Flare applications, however. When asked why Flare has flown under the radar, a company spokesperson could only say, "The nature of testing new business/tech within our existing company and all the Flare products are still very nascent. As we have done with several of the products already, we've shifted some along the way and are still in a beta stage."
Although Cox views the Flare products as nascent, flarePlay has been around for at least a year and a half. The subscription gaming service requires a "microconsole" that can be purchased through Toys R Us for $30, and includes a monthly fee ranging from $10 to $15 for unlimited streaming of games to the TV. There are more than 150 game titles available, and they run the gamut from Lego-brand Disney games to "Assassin's Creed II."
The Flare services from Cox are all available outside of the company's cable footprint and can be used with any service provider's broadband or mobile Internet connection. Unlike some of the IP services that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is piloting, the Cox Flare products are true over-the-top applications. Cox isn't managing the end-to-end delivery experience, but instead is relying on the bring-your-own-broadband model. (See Comcast Plays Games With X1 and Comcast Nears Gaming Launch With EA.)
In some ways, then, Cox is taking the opposite approach from many other cable operators. Instead of emphasizing its broadband pipe and pairing it with other OTT applications, the company – in this case – is bringing its own OTT applications to a wider audience that may or may not use a Cox broadband connection.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading