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Published on July 12th, 2018 | by Brad Gibson

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Cox considers all-in-one streaming portal service with hooks

Cable service provider Cox Communications is considering launching a streaming service that combines various third-party packages with its own offerings of content, but one that would require customers to rent a modem and purchase a $50 streaming device from them.

The sixth largest multichannel pay-TV provider in the U.S., Cox is floating the idea of such a service directly with some customers who recently received a survey seeking their opinion. The survey – which BESTAppleTV received as a Cox customer – is long on ideas and short on details of exactly what content is being considered and how the service would actually operate.

According to the survey, the service would be called Smart Stream and would require an internet connection, cable modem, and a dongle “small enough to attach to the back of any TV,” similar to a Roku Streaming Stick, that could only be purchased from Cox.

The goal of the service – if it ever becomes reality – appears to be combining third-party streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon and possibly other live streaming services into one offering.

The dongle – with its $50 price tag – would be an additional revenue stream for Cox locking in customers instead of offering the service as an app through third-party devices like Apple TV, Roku, or Fire TV Stick as other U.S. cable systems have done like Charter Communications.

“No more switching inputs on your TV, fumbling with multiple remotes and searching through apps to find what you want,” the survey read. “Smart Stream gets you right to the good stuff, so there’s less searching and more watching.”

According to the survey “any new streaming services purchased through the device (would) be billed separately by Cox,” possibly for an additional fee.

What is not known is if those “streaming services” would include live offerings of channels from the likes of Hulu with Live TV, DirecTV Now, PlayStation Vue, YouTube TV, Philo and Sling TV, or if Cox would stream live TV networks themselves.

As for local network affiliates, the survey mentions the ability for customers to add their own over-the-air antenna to the Cox streaming player and possibly add cloud DVR functionality.

But the biggest ‘catch’ in the proposed offering is a “monthly modem rental,” according to the survey, that would generate additional income for the telecom giant and lock customers into a continuous revenue stream.

Contrary to other online reports that Smart Stream is definitely “launching”, a Cox spokesperson told BESTAppleTV the service is nothing more than an idea and far from reality.

“We regularly test new concepts of how we might connect our customers to the content they love,” the spokesperson said. “Smart Stream is a concept and if it receives a positive response and makes business sense, we’ll consider where we take it.”

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About the Author

Brad is co-founder and editor-in-chief of BESTAppleTV.com. He has been a technology reporter since the late 1980s having previously worked for MacUser, MacFormat, and iCreate magazines, as well as MacNN.com, MacObserver.com, MacCentral.com, MacMinute.com, and Macworld.com. He hosted and produced the MacFormat This Week podcast for three years. He was also a reporter, editor, and producer for the Associated Press and United Press International.



3 Responses to Cox considers all-in-one streaming portal service with hooks

  1. Well, Cox Communications has recently launched Contour TV which has many benefits and people are subscribing to these services.

    • Brad Gibson says:

      Contour was launched in 2016. I wouldn’t say that was “recently.”

      Yes, while Contour has “benefits”, I seriously doubt it is convincing large numbers of customers to stay with Cox when the company has raised rates every year for the past four.

      A study by cg42 (http://cg42.com/publications/cord-cutter-cord-never-study-2018/) said last month Cox will lose 7.9 percent of its video subscribers in the next year. Cox Communications does not report subscriber numbers because they are a private company, but said late last year it had 4 million subscribers. There is no industry analyst out there that I’ve read or talked to that doesn’t think Cox has lost large numbers of subscribers like the majority of their counterparts.

      All of this is clear evidence that counters the “benefits” of Contour and proves Cox is listening less to customers, losing customers, and is paying the price.

  2. johnny rotten says:

    My prices went up 4x faster than inflation and the content no longer justifies the total I am paying.

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