Cox Goes All-In With Second-Screen App Strategy

by , Jan 9, 2013, 8:49 AM
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Tablet-using-BThe battle for the second screen gets hotter at the Consumer Electronics Show this week as cable and satellite service providers try to get a piece of the action. Cox Communications announced in Las Vegas a major upcoming upgrade to its smartphone and tablet app that will include live TV streaming, personal content recommendations based on individual viewer profiles and extensive remote control capabilities.

The yet-unnamed app will replace and consolidate Cox’s current selection of user apps, including the Cox TV Connect app, which already allows users to stream live TV on their devices from within the home. The new app will allow users to stream 90 live TV channels as well as access all on-demand content from the devices. The app will also act as a remote control for the house’s various boxes and on-screen selection guides.

Up to eight users in a household can get personalized content recommendations based on their own viewing history and stated preferences. Cox says it is the only app from a multichannel service provider to leverage user profiles and history for personalized content discovery.  

Cox is working with ThinkAnalytics on the metadata that drives the recommendations. The company is also using Cisco’s Videoscape Unity platform.

The Cox app will roll out in coming months first for the iPad and then to other devices.  

The announcement is part of a trend among MSOs to get into the second-screen game, which until now was dominated by third-party startups like Zeebox and IntoNow or the individual networks.

Earlier this week Dish Network launched a new viewer app that manages its Hopper home DVR platform and helps with content discovery and social TV discussions. At this early stage it is unclear where most consumers will go first for second-screen experiences -- the network providing the content, new startups, or now, the MSO providing all of the content to the home. MSOs have the distinct advantage of being the main hardware provider to the home, and so can pack second-screen services around fundamental remote control/DVR management functionality.

It is worth noting, however, that even the third-party apps are beginning to incorporate some of the core functionality that the MSOs provide. The Zeebox social TV app, for instance, now can tie into select MSOs like Comcast and change channels for the user. 

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