Cox Hits Accelerator on ‘New’ Contour

Cox signed a deal to license Comcast’s X1 platform on a national basis late last year, and the MSO has wasted little time getting its next-gen video product rolled out to the majority of its footprint.

Cox, the fourth-largest incumbent U.S. cable operator with about 4 million subs, confirmed last week that it has launched its new cloud-based video platform to the majority of its markets.

Cox said the new platform, being billed as the “new” Contour, has been rolled out in systems serving Rhode Island; Connecticut; Central Florida; Louisiana; Arkansas; Kansas; Arizona; Las Vegas; Cleveland; Macon, Ga.; Oklahoma City and Tulsa, Okla.; and San Diego, Santa Barbara and Orange County, Calif.

All that’s left is Virginia. Cox expects to launch the new Contour there on April 26, an MSO official said.

Cox’s deal for X1, a platform that features a cloud-based interface for set-tops and mobile devices and a voice-based remote control, serves as the bedrock for the MSO’s “future state” video project. Steve Necessary, Cox’s executive vice president of product development and management, told Multichannel News last November that Cox had “cast our lot” with X1.

The new Contour succeeds the first version, which Cox developed in tandem with Cisco Systems and other partners.

Financial terms weren’t disclosed, but Necessary said then that the X1 licensing deal operates on a per-subscriber basis. Cox’s rapid deployment could serve as a blueprint of sorts as Comcast looks to license X1 to other MSOs and seeks other ways to recoup its significant investment in the platform.

Canada’s Shaw Communications is also on board with the X1 platform, but for now is limiting its use to FreeRange TV, an authenticated mobile video app introduced in January. Rogers Communications has been eyeing X1 as a potential alternative for its IP video plan, according to multiple industry sources.

Cox’s deployment also builds in additional scale for the Reference Design Kit (RDK), a pre-integrated software stack for set-tops and gateways that’s being managed by Comcast, LibertyGlobal and Time Warner Cable.

Though Comcast will be looking to entice more MSOs to use X1, operators have a variety of options at their disposal. TiVo already works with several independent MSOs, and Colorado-based Evolution Digital recently launched eVUE-TV, a video platform that will help smaller operators manage their transitions to IP.

Another possibility is Layer3 TV, which is testing an IP-delivered video service with Sudden-link Communications under the “Umio” brand in Midland and Kingwood, Texas.