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Cox to Boost IPTV Lineup to 90-Plus Live Channels

Doubling down on multiscreen video, Cox Communications next month expects to add more than 50 live channels to its IP television service, bringing the lineup to more than 90, and will launch an iPhone version of the app for accessing the service to complement its original iPad version.

The MSO originally launched the Cox TV Connect service, available only within a subscriber's home over a Wi-Fi connection, with 35 channels last December. In addition to the iPhone and iPad apps, Cox expects to release an Android app in the first half of 2013.

“The emphasis is: we are building an IP video infrastructure capable of both inside-the-home and outside-the-home distribution,” said Steve Necessary, Cox's vice president of video product development and management. “The intent is make sure the delivery infrastructure is capable of linear and on-demand.”

To beef up the Cox TV Connect lineup, the operator had to deploy more encoders from its supplier, RGB Networks. The MSO worked with NDS (now owned by Cisco Systems) to develop the interface for the app.

In addition, Cox had to enable its back-office systems to determine which channels a given subscriber is entitled to receive, according to service tier. “The first iteration we launched a year ago, the channel lineup was the common denominator,” Necessary said.

The new channels to be added to the IPTV service include: Bio, Encore, Fox Business Network, Galavisión, G4, GAC, GMC, Hallmark, Hallmark Movie Channel, NatGeo Wild, Outdoor Channel, Oxygen, Sprout, Tennis Channel and WGN.

Currently, Cox TV Connect does not include any local broadcast channels. “Those have to be negotiated market by market,” Necessary said, adding that Cox expects to initiate a trial in one market shortly.

The original Cox TV Connect lineup provides: A&E, ABC Family, AMC, Animal Planet, Bravo, Cartoon Network, CNBC, CNN, C-SPAN, C-SPAN 2, C-SPAN 3, Discovery, Disney Channel, E!, Food Network, Fox News, FX, Golf Channel, HGTV, History Channel, HLN, HSN, Lifetime, MSNBC, National Geographic, QVC, Speed, Syfy, TBS, TLC, TNT, Travel Channel, truTV, Turner Classic Movies and USA Network.

The Cox TV Connect service is available to customers who have Cox TV Essential or Advanced TV plus Cox Preferred, Premier or Ultimate Internet service. It’s not available to subscribers on Cox's two entry-level broadband tiers -- Economy/Starter (1 Mbps down) and Value (3 Mbps) -- which is to “help ensure a quality experience with adequate broadband speed to support the app,” Cox spokesman Todd Smith said.

The Cox TV Connect service is similar to those launched by other operators, including Time Warner Cable and Cablevision Systems.