Pay TV Providers Expanding Beyond TV

Pay TV providers have unveiled a number of products so their customers can watch programs on devices other than their television sets.

The move is designed to help pay TV providers retain subscribers in the face of a growing trend toward watching shows online for free or through subscription services such as Netflix, said Brahm Eiley, president of the Convergence Consulting Group Ltd. of Toronto.

See Also: Cutting the Cable

“So whether you’re watching through your TV, or you’re watching through your computer or you’re watching through your cellphone, … you’re still tethered to the provider,” Eiley said. “So that won’t end the TV subscription business.”

Last week, AT&T announced improvements to its application that allows customers to receive an expanded lineup of their on-demand premium and TV content through their iPhones or iPads at no extra charge, according to an AT&T news release.

“Whether using a TV, computer, or mobile phone, U-verse customers can watch on demand content at home or on-the-go,” Anita Smith, a spokeswoman for AT&T Arkansas, said in an email response to questions from Arkansas Business.

CoxCom Inc. of Johnson, which is known as Cox Communications, also gives subscribers access to their programs through mobile devices.

“This is what everybody’s always going to expect,” said Kelly Zega, a spokeswoman for Cox.
In 2011, Cox introduced TV Online, which lets subscribers access TV shows and movies through the Internet. In addition, subscribers can use an iPad app to watch about 35 live TV channels in their homes, Zega said. She said more channels will be made available through that iPad app, and Cox is working on ways to let subscribers take the service outside of the home.

“We’re not sitting still with this and just resting on our laurels,” Zega said.

Comcast Corp., which has more than 71,000 customers in Arkansas, also has a number of options for subscribers who want to watch programs over the Internet.

In the coming months, Comcast will unveil AnyPlay, a device that will allow live TV to be played on a number of mobile devices in a subscriber’s home, Rob Ponto, a spokesman for Comcast, said in an email to Arkansas Business.

In February, Comcast started its own subscription video service called Xfinity Streampix, which offers viewers past seasons of TV shows and movies on their televisions, computers or mobile devices.

“While customers today have a number of choices for video content, we believe we’re well positioned to deliver to consumers the video experience they want anywhere, anytime on any device,” Ponto said.