Cox Grabs

Cox Communications will offer the online video service to broadband subscribers nationwide beginning Sept. 30.

The 24-hour Internet TV service, which offers more than 3,500 live sports events per year, will be available to all Cox high-speed residential and business Internet customers at for no additional charge. Nationwide, Cox had about 4 million broadband subscribers as of the end of 2008.

ESPN360 now reaches more than two-thirds of all broadband users in the U.S., with Comcast added into the fold in May. Other providers that offer ESPN360 include Verizon Communications, AT&T, Suddenlink Communications, Insight Communications and RCN.

"Making available for free to our high-speed Internet customers is just one more way Cox is committed to providing the best value," Cox Northern Virginia general manager Janet Barnard said in a statement.

ESPN charges distributors a per-subscriber fee to offer the service. The model, which mirrors traditional cable TV carriage, has drawn criticism from the American Cable Association, which has argued that charging sub fees for Internet content could drive up the retail cost of broadband access.

ESPN360 lets users view up to 15 simultaneous live events, toggling between games in a main viewing window. The service includes events from the NBA, NCAA men's and women's basketball, NCAA college football, FIFA World Cup events and global qualifiers, among other content.

Separately, Cox announced that it will increase the download speeds of its Preferred and Premier subscribers in its Northern Virginia service area, effective Sept. 29. The Preferred tier will increase to 15 Mbps down and 2 Mbps up (20/2.5 with PowerBoost) compared with 10/2 before, and Premier will be 25/3 (30/3.5 with PowerBoost) compared with 20/3 prior.

In Northern Virginia, Cox faces competition from Verizon's FiOS Internet and TV. Earlier this summer, the MSO introduced the "Ultimate" 50-Mbps downstream DOCSIS 3.0 service.