Detailed within Variety yesterday, cable provider Cox Communications is beta testing a less expensive Internet television subscription package that includes cloud DVR service to record programming. Likely targeting the segment of consumers that’s ditching premium TV service for streaming subscription video services like Netflix and free over-the-air, high definition network programming, Cox’s $35-a-month FlareWatch Internet television service provides access to 97 channels in addition to thirty hours of DVR cloud storage.
Conducting the test among a segment of consumers in Orange County, California, FlareWatch includes access to local network content in addition to cable networks such as “ESPN, ESPN2, TNT, Disney Channel, ABC Family, Fox Sports West, TWC SportsNet, CNN, CNBC, Nickelodeon, A&E, Discovery, Bravo, USA, TLC, MTV, Fox News Channel, FX, Food Network and Syfy.”
Traditionally, this array of cable networks weren’t available in anything less than the $64-a-month Cox Advanced TV service cable package. Cox does offer a basic $25-a-month cable package, but that only includes “CNN, Nickelodeon, Discovery, History, Fox News, Food Network and USA.”
Cox delivers this Internet television access through Fan TV, a set-top box that’s attempting to simplify content discovery while providing access to live television content. The Fan TV box is priced at $99 and consumers can connect up to three units around the home to the FlareWatch service. FlareWatch doesn’t provide access to alternative streaming video sources like Netflix, Vudu or Hulu Plus, thus the consumer will still have to purchase a device like the Roku 3 to gain access to those services.
Assuming the FlareWatch experiment is successful, Cox could potentially launch the service nationwide. This could undercut competitors in addition to winning back cord cutters that ditched cable due to expensive subscription costs. When asked about a wider launch of the service, Cox spokesman Todd Smith said “Results and customer feedback will determine if we proceed with future plans.”