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TWC Launches Roku Trial in NYC

Time Warner Cable has pushed ahead with a IPTV trial in New York City, Mt. Vernon and New Jersey that offers three different video service tiers to customers who take the MSO’s residential broadband service (its “Extreme” tier or higher).

The trial, seemingly targeted to cord-cutters and video customers who are looking to avoid set-top box fees, centers on the MSO’s TWC TV app for the Roku platform, which provides access to more than 300 live TV channels, plus about 20,000 free and subscription VOD choices from the operator’s on-demand vault. Like Time Warner Cable’s regular TWC TV app for Roku, the version featured in the NYC trial does not support transactional VOD or a DVR features. But Roku does provide those TWC customers access to a platform that supports a massive number of OTT "channels," including Hulu, Crackle, Netflix, and Amazon Video. 

Details of the trial began to emerge late last month. On Monday, TWC announced that it’s offering three different tiers on the Roku platform via TWC’s managed IP network (and not “over-the-top” ):

-Starter TV: $9.99 per month for 12 months, a free Roku 3, and access to 20-plus channels in the MSO’s Starter TV plan, including ABC, CBS, C-SPAN, CW, Fox, HSN, NBC, TBS, TWC News and Univision. A DOCSIS 3.0 modem with Extreme Internet service (50 Mbps down in NYC, where the operator has completed “TWC Maxx” upgrades ) or above and in-home WiFi is required.

-Starter TV with Showtime and Starz: $19.99/month for 12 months for $19.99/month, a free  Roku 3, the operator’s Starter TV plan, and access to the Showtime  Anytime and Starz Play TV Everywhere apps.

-Standard TV with Showtime and Starz: $49.99 per month for 12 months, a free Roku 3 player, access to a lineup of 70-plus linear channels (including AMC, CNN, Comedy Central, Discovery, Disney, ESPN, Fox News Channel, FX, MTV, TBS, TNT, TWC News and USA), and credentials for the Showtime Anytime and Starz Play apps.

Per the fine print, TWC’s Roku-powered option in NYC expires on June 18, 2016, and is not available to bulk residential customers.  TWC has not announced the monthly rate for the offering following the trial period. TWC is in the process of being acquired by Charter Communications, which recently launched a streaming TV app for the Roku platform.

“The TWC TV Roku Trial represents an important step in our evolution, giving customers more ways to view the content they love in ways that work for them,” Peter Stern, TWC’s EVP and chief product, people and strategy officer, said in a  statement.  “This trial will help us build a better experience for our customers, while making cable television programming even more affordable, accessible and relevant to a new generation of consumers.”

Other MSOs have launched or are trialing new slimmed down TV offerings. Charter is  testing a service called Spectrum TV Streamthat starts at $12.99 per month;Comcast is nearing the wide launch of “Stream,”a $15 per month no-contract IP video offering; and Cablevision Systems has launched a batch of packages tailored for cord-cutters.  Dish Network is targeting cord-cutters and cord-nevers with Sling TV, an OTT-TV service that launched nationally in February and starts at $20 per month.