While cable operators continue to add more ways to watch TV without a set-top, that doesn’t presage the death of the industry’s expensive and proprietary — and, some would say, hated — boxes.
The latest development in this trend: Time Warner Cable is now delivering 300 live channels and 5,000 on-demand titles on Amazon Kindle Fire HD and HDX tablets to subscribers over home Wi-Fi. The second-biggest U.S. cable operator also has added VOD access for three additional devices: Roku players, Samsung Smart TVs and Microsoft Xbox 360 consoles.
Currently, however, Time Warner Cable requires all digital video subscribers to lease at least one set-top or DVR to receive the TWC TV video-streaming service.
Like other cable operators, TW Cable makes incremental revenue by leasing set-tops once the equipment is amortized while it also incurs significant up-front capital expenditures to purchase them. Ultimately MSOs might arrive a box-less delivery model like Netflix and other over-the-top video services, but at the same time they see their branded hardware as anchoring the service in the home and delivering enhanced features.
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TW Cable positions the device-expansion strategy as catering to subscriber demand. The company has an “unwavering commitment to delivering our customers the TV they want, when, where and how they want it,” said senior VP and GM of video Mike Angus.
Time Warner Cable’s TWC TV service, launched in 2011, is available on iPhones, iPads, certain Android tablets and phones, Windows and Mac computers, Roku players, Samsung Internet TVs (2012 and later models) and Xbox 360s. In addition to in-home programming available across devices, Time Warner Cable subscribers can access 1,000 on-demand titles and about a dozen live television channels from anywhere.
The cable company reportedly has been in discussions with Apple to add the streaming-video service to the Apple TV device.
TWC TV channel lineups and VOD offerings vary by market and are based on a subscriber’s video-subscription package.