Pleased with its customer and employee trials of Comcast’s IP-capable X1 platform, Cox Communications said it has signed a national licensing deal for X1 and has sparked a commercial rollout of a new version of Cox’s multiscreen “Contour” offering in San Diego.
Cox recently expanded its X1 trial in San Diego, offering it to customers there who contacted the MSO about the pilot. Previously, Cox was limiting the field test to employees and other “friendlies.” Cox had also been testing X1 with select customers in its Middle Georgia systems.
The licensing deal is a big win for Comcast, which has been looking to scale up its platform by partnering up with other MVPDs. Cox was the first operator outside of Comcast to evaluate X1, but Shaw Communications of Canada has also jumped in to trial it, and expects to move ahead with a commercial launch during Shaw’s 2016 fiscal year. Comcast has accelerated its rollout of X1 to about 40,000 boxes per day. Arris and Pace, which are merging, are Comcast's primary X1 box suppliers.
The Cox licencing deal is also good news for the Reference Design Kit (RDK), the preintegrated software stack for set-tops and gateways being managed by Comcast, Liberty Global and Time Warner Cable.
The new national X1 deal comes amid Cox’s pursuit of a “future-state” video project.
Cox’s new iteration of Contour will support in-home linear TV, apps and widgets, and a cloud-based interface for set-top boxes and mobile devices. It will also feature other elements such as a predictive search engine, a voice-activated remote control, and a VOD library with more than 35,000 “choices.”
The new Contour will also offer an HD-DVR with six tuners, and 2 terabytes of storage. It was not immediately clear if Cox intends to add a Cloud DVR, a feature that’s now part of Comcast’s X1 platform.
"We are always looking for ways to expand and enhance our video experience for our customers," said Steve Necessary, Cox’s vice president of product development and management, in a statement. "After extensive testing of the X1 platform, we are confident that the new technology will take Contour to the next level, evolving the experience across multiple screens and devices inside the home. Since we first launched Contour, we have been pleased with the results and we are confident that the new Contour experience will be well received by our customers."