Cox Testing Set-Top Box Linking TV, Internet2 Jul, 2013 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Cable operator’s FanTV offers cloud-based DVR, Internet access, VOD and live TV in Orange County, Calif.
Cox Communications has begun testing a new Internet-based set-top box, dubbed “FanTV,” that enables users to watch and record (via the cloud) live television and access on-demand programming — all through the Internet.
Cox is rolling out the pilot under the FlareWatch brand name, which involves buying a $99 set-top box and a $35 monthly service. FanTV includes access to 90 live TV channels, including 60 in high-definition, and 30 hours of recording capacity in the cloud.
Notably, the service does not offer access to Netflix, Hulu or Amazon Prime Instant Video.
Test cities include Irvine, Calif., Lake Forest, Rancho Santa Margarita and Laguna Niguel.
The rollout comes as No. 1 cable provider Comcast is planning to launch its own cloud-based DVR and related broadband platform in 2014.
Richard Greenfield, analyst with BTIG Research in New York, says FanTV’s merits include ease of registration, DVR functionality and hardware — the latter capable of accessing subscription video-on-demand services.
“We firmly believe that enabling … live linear television, VOD from the MVPD, cloud DVR and a wide array of integrated over-the-top video services … would enable MVPD/ISPs to charge premium prices (higher ARPUs) and reduce capital expenditures (as consumers would gladly purchase beautiful hardware to replace their existing, outdated, frustrating, leased equipment and self-install, eliminating a truck roll),” Greenfield wrote in a July 2 blog post.