Cox's Fledging OTT Service Flares Out
Another one bites the dust.
It was just two months ago that Cox Communications Inc. started touting a new video streaming service, Flare MeTV, that offered a personalized dashboard of favorite online video feeds and services (think Hulu and HBO) with tools for creating playlists and searching across multiple content sources. Now, however, the promoted website, Facebook page and Twitter account have all dropped off the map. The website URL lands nowhere, the Facebook content is unavailable, and the Twitter page doesn't exist.
Cox confirms that the OTT service is no more. In a short statement to Light Reading, a spokesperson said only: "We'll continue to explore the digital entertainment space, but we've decided not to launch MeTV as originally intended."
Over the last few years, Cox has trialed a series of IP-based applications using the brand name Flare. flareWatch, which was built around Fanhattan's Fan TV experience (Fanhattan later sold itself off to Rovi Corp. ), flamed out quickly in 2013. The IPTV service bundled top networks like ESPN and Discovery with broadband access and a cloud DVR feature. (See Cox's IPTV Trial Flames Out.)
However, Flare Kids and flarePlay have fared better. Flare Kids aggregates child-friendly content in a single, parent-controlled app. flarePlay is a subscription gaming service that supports unlimited streaming of games to the TV with the help of a $30 "microconsole" available at Toys R Us. (See Cox Lights Up Flare Kids App.)
Flare MeTV arrived on the scene right about the same time that Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) debuted Watchable and Verizon Communications Inc. (NYSE: VZ) introduced its Go90 mobile video service. All three efforts were aimed at attracting millennial audiences -- and competing with YouTube Inc. -- although the implementations have varied according to individual service provider goals.
Comcast, for example, sees Watchable as a digital sandbox that it can use to bring new types of online video to viewers via apps and the X1 platform. Verizon is using Go90 to bypass traditional TV distribution and create an online destination for millennial viewers who want cheap access to some premium content plus lots of web-original videos. (See Comcast's Watchable: Like YouTube… Sorta and Verizon's Go90 Is Live – Will Anyone Watch?)
For Cox, Flare MeTV looked simply like an extension of its continued testing of new IP-based applications. However, it may be that the experiment ran into a wall once Cox decided to license Comcast's X1 platform on a national basis. Since Watchable ties in to X1, it's possible that Flare MeTV was a duplicative effort and not worth the internal resources being spent. Shaw Communications Inc. came to a similar conclusion when it decided to abandon its own IPTV efforts and license X1 instead. (See Cox Takes Comcast X1 Platform National and Shaw 'Hatches' Free Range TV.)
While Cox continues to "explore" its options, it's hard to know what the operator will do next in the IP video space. Looking at Comcast and X1, however, may offer some clues.
— Mari Silbey, Senior Editor, Cable/Video, Light Reading