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Marcus: Roku Test Isn’t OTT

Time Warner Cable chairman and CEO Rob Marcus told analysts Thursday that its testing of an IP-based video product in New York utilizing Roku boxes  is a lot of things, but one thing it isn’t is an attempt to go over-the-top.

Time Warner Cable began testing the service earlier this week, offering the full suite of its video offerings through a Roku box. Some reports said that TWC was planning to test a $10 monthly service with about 20 channels and a full-blown offering for about $50 per month.  

On a conference call with analysts to discuss its third quarter results, Marcus said the trial is a natural extension of its TWC TV app, available on IoS and Android smartphones and other devices.

“The way I would characterize the New York City trial is really the next step in the evolution of TWC TV," Marcus said. "When we launched the TWC TV app the goal was to create an offering that was complementary to our traditional video product. As we move forward and what we’re trialing with this beta [test] in New York is we're going to move that TWC TV capability toward a full video offering that could be substitutional for the traditional set-top box-based video product. Where we're headed is the ability of customers to access the complete video product without having to rent a set-top box from us, whether they use a Roku or ultimately another IP-enabled device. But what we need to accomplish that is first we need to ensure that the video product complies with Title VI of the [1996] Telecom Act in the same way our traditional service does.”

That means making sure the product includes Emergency Alert service; has the complete TWC channel lineup, including PEG channels, and improving the video picture resolution from standard definition to high definition.

Marcus said that further enhancements could be made to the product down the road, but stressed that the product is not an attempt by Time Warner Cable to offer an over-the-top product.

“Our IP video offering is not over-the-top,” Marcus said. “This is a video service that we are delivering over our facilities, not anybody else’s. Over time there might be a TV Everywhere component to this just like there is one to our traditional video offering. But what we’re talking about here is a managed video service over our network.”

He added that while the tests involve the full Time Warner Cable video offering, it doesn’t mean that later iterations wouldn’t include smaller packages.    

“We’re fans of choice,” Marcus said.

He said TWC will continue to promote smaller packages like its basic cable offering plus a premium channel or its low-cost TV Essentials package aimed at cost-conscious consumers. He noted, though, that in the quarter, about 82% of new customers opted for the full video package.