A “Me” generation has emerged in TV. Millions of viewers have an extraordinary sense of entitlement with the thinking: I want it now, I want it easy, I want it everywhere and I want endless choices. It feels like there should be an anthem to capture their intense yearning.
Cable operators get it. It’s in the consumer research. At least, that’s what Cox Communications found prior to launching a product suite and accompanying brand that it hopes will satisfy this feeling of consumer birthright that seems to get stronger and stronger.
Late last year, it launched an easy-to-use recommendation engine seeking to offer viewers an array of programming choices derived from their past behavior. Then, last week, it rolled out an iPad app with access to dozens of channels live in the home, along with a DVR that can record six shows at once and store up to 1,000 hours.
During marketing R&D, the cable operator determined it didn't want the products to stand alone. Rooted in research, Cox senior vice president Joe Rooney said it wanted an overarching message of “imaginative,” “adaptive,” “innovative” and “fun.”
With consultants at Lippincott, the search yielded a sub-brand tabbed Contour, signifying an experience that takes on the shape of a consumer’s preferences. With ad agency Doner came the tagline: “TV Just For Me.”
“Personalized TV experience is really the common ground,” Rooney said.
The Contour technology is impressive. The recommendation machinery --
staged on a program guide -- can be tailored to multiple users or groups. So, suggestions can come for a 49-year-old, sports-loving dad and separately for a cartoon-loving 5-year-old. Or, for various
types of co-viewing, such as a mother and teenage daughter (shows on E! or Bravo might show up) or full family (“American Idol” and “NCIS”?).
The recommendations can include programming airing live, available on-demand or stored on the DVR.
With the iPad app, a top-recommended show automatically begins playing when it’s fired up, while eight other personalized options are shown and accessible with a click.
The Contour opportunity to record six shows at once is an industry first and should reduce family competition. Six shows captured simultaneously would seem to offer everyone the chance to grab one in a particular time period and then some.
The iPad app is free to customers with certain packages. The recommendation engine costs about $10 a month and the DVR goes for about $14. They can be ordered individually.
Cox is looking to market the Contour options to its current customer base initially, running a 30-second ad in inventory it controls. Over the next few months, it will look to attract new customers by using local stations in markets it serves. Major ones include Phoenix, San Diego and Las Vegas.
With the tagline “TV Just For Me,” Doner uses a variety of people in the opening spot, with each holding an iPad and expressing excitement over opportunities offered, while demonstrating some capabilities. Actors finish each other’s sentences.
“We wanted it to be sort of a cool exposition of how the product works with an element of real humanity,” said David DeMuth, co-CEO of Doner, which has worked with Cox for over a decade.
More spots are expected later this month. Outside TV, there are plans to use other marketing platforms. Cox is also working with Cisco to roll out set-top-boxes with the Contour brand stamped on them.
That means Contour is shaping up to be around a while.