Cable and Pay TV Providers Try to Court Online Audiences

With Netflix, Hulu and Amazon Instant Video usage on the rise, many cable and pay TV providers have been challenged with retaining their audiences.

Rather than take the competition lying down, there are several new apps and devices being released in the next six months that will challenge online video services directly:

• At the Consumer Electronics Show in January, Cox Communications, the third-largest cable operator by subscribers, unveiled its new Internet-enabled set-top box and app for the iPad. Both tools give subscribers access to online streaming content and a convenient way to search through live TV listings. The iPad app can be used to control the channels on the TV. The company has plans to integrate other online streaming services like Netflix into its set-top box soon.

• Dish Network has a horse in the race for online viewers as well. The satellite television provider is enhancing their digital video recorder – called the Hopper – with Internet functionality. Subscribers can download and stream recordings from their favorite Dish Network channels. They are also offering an iPad app that has downloadable and streaming recordings.

• Comcast, the biggest cable operator, is also offering a set-top box with online functionality. Its X1 box is being tested in select markets, and features streaming online content but doesn’t offer integrated apps from other online video outlets.

Internet delivery of content has become an important part of how consumers access content and a new area of exposure for online media buyers. While consumers have found multiple workarounds for viewing online content on their televisions, this often requires them to handle several remotes and flip back and forth between services.

Cable and pay TV providers are hoping that the convenience of using one device – or one device and an app – will help consumers make the move from their competitor’s online streaming services to one home base for entertainment.

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