Cox Communications is doubling down on a video-on-demand strategy it has dubbed "TV Anytime," to let subscribers watch their favorite shows where most people still watch television: on TV.
By Oct. 1, the cable operator is aiming to offer 100 "of America's top-rated television programs from that week," Cox president Pat Esser said, from more than 20 networks the day after they air. That's up from 50 to 60 shows per week currently in the MyPrimetime queue.
The networks participating in the service have included ABC, NBC, Syfy, Turner Broadcasting System's TBS, TNT and Cartoon Network, Fox's FX and Rainbow Media's AMC.
Cox is now expanding its MyPrimetime to include content from A&E, USA, Lifetime, Discovery, TLC, Animal Planet, Disney and Disney XD, ABC Family, SoapNet, IFC, WE TV, Travel Channel and Bravo.
The industry in recent months has been abuzz about "TV Everywhere," the idea that cable TV subscribers can access full-length episodes on the Web as part of their monthly bill. Comcast this month expects to begin a 5,000-household test of the concept with programming from Time Warner Inc., Starz Entertainment and others.
Esser said he was encouraged by the Comcast trial, noting that the industry needs to adopt standards for online authentication. But, he added, "what our energy has been spent on is TV Anytime."
That's not to say the approaches are mutually exclusive. Time Warner Inc. CEO Jeff Bewkes, even as he outlined the TV Everywhere trial last month, also emphasized cable VOD as a major thrust.
"Don't miss the importance of video-on-demand on your set-top box," he said. "You'll also have a dramatic increase in the amount of VOD content available from these networks."
MyPrimetime provides VOD access to broadcast and cable shows the day after they air for up to 28 days, with the fast-forward disabled. Cox provides networks the option to preserve the full ad load to capture the views in Nielsen's C3 ratings.
Cox said the service has proven extremely popular, with more than 80% of users saying they are satisfied with the product.
Asked what they would do if the shows were not available via MyPrimetime, 20% of subscribers would set their DVR to record the program while on average 27% said they would not have watched the show at all. Meanwhile, 30% of MyPrimetime users said they hadn't used VOD at all previously.
Currently, MyPrimetime offers episodes of NBC's 30 Rock, The Office, Chuck, Parks and Recreation, and Southland; FX's Rescue Me; TNT's Saving Grace and The Closer; TBS's Tyler Perry's House of Payne; USA's Burn Notice; WeTV's Bridezillas; Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures; and AMC's Mad Men (starting in August).
When the fall season begins, Cox expects to offer additional shows as they premier including ABC's Lost, Grey's Anatomy and Ugly Betty and NBC's Heroes.
Cox's MyPrimetime is available in 11 markets: Orange County, Calif.; San Diego; Santa Barbara, Calif.; New England; Kansas/Arkansas; Arizona; Macon, Ga.; Roanoke, Va.; Tulsa, Okla.; Greater Louisiana; and Omaha, Neb. The operator plans to expand it to all digital customers by the end of the year.