Time Warner to Beta-Test Internet-Only TV in NYC

The beta service will let some customers get online Internet TV services, without requiring a cable connection, through a Roku 3 device.

Time Warner Cable, Comcast, DirecTV, Internet-only TV, cable TV, New York City, AT&T, Roku 3

Time Warner Cable is about to launch a beta test of a streaming television service over the Internet in New York City that won't require a traditional cable connection or cable box for customers.

The test service, which will be provided through a Roku 3 set-top box video streaming device, will let users get TV services through various channel packages based on what consumers want to buy, according to an Oct. 24 story by TechTimes. Time Warner Cable will give beta customers a free Roku 3 set-top box as part of the initial test offering, the article said.

A Starter TV package will cost $10 a month under the service, while adding Starz and Showtime to the starter bundle boosts the price another $20 a month. Customers who want more channels can buy a Standard package that also includes Starz and Showtime for $50 a month, the article said.

Customers will also still be able to use any other Internet applications they want, including Hulu, Netflix and more, according to the article. Support for Time Warner Cable's TV apps is already provided for Android, iOS, Xbox One/Xbox 360, Kindle Fire, Fan TV and Samsung's Smart TVs.

A Time Warner Cable spokesperson told eWEEK in an Oct. 26 email reply to an inquiry that she had no comment but would release more details soon.

Back in May, Charter Communications acquired Time Warner Cable for $78.7 billion, just a month after an earlier $45 billion TWC acquisition proposal by Comcast fell apart due to potential roadblocks from federal regulators who were wary of the merger due to concerns about unfair competition and harm to industry innovation. That merger had been proposed back in February 2014.

The musical chairs with TWC continued even after the Comcast deal went bust when Luxembourg-based cable and telecom company Altice also began looking to pursue TWC right after the Comcast deal fell apart in April.

The world of cable TV operators has been a busy one this year as the major players continue to make moves to battle for new customers.

Earlier in October, Comcast, the nation's largest cable provider, began reportedly looking into reselling mobile phone services to its own customers through an arrangement with Verizon Wireless, according to an earlier eWEEK story. Comcast told Verizon that it wants to pursue a reselling arrangement, which was created as an option back in 2012 when Comcast and others sold nationwide FCC spectrum licenses to Verizon for $3.6 billion as part of an industry shift, according to an Oct. 21 report by Bloomberg. Under the original deal, Comcast, Verizon and the other players agreed to market and sell each other's services, the story reported.

A Comcast wireless offering could begin as a trial service in about six months, with commercial services starting a year from now, the article said. The mobile services could potentially be provided at half the cost of a conventional wireless carrier, the article continued.

Comcast has not confirmed that it will definitely pursue mobile phone services, but the company is looking into the possibilities, according to the report.

The Comcast inquiries into wireless services follow a big move by AT&T in August when it offered $500-per-line credits to DirecTV customers to entice them to switch to AT&T's mobile services. AT&T acquired DirecTV in July in a $48.5 billion deal and has been working to persuade customers of the satellite TV service to move their mobile phone accounts over to AT&T from its competitors, according to an earlier eWEEK report.

The AT&T offer came less than three weeks after AT&T acquired DirecTV after pursuing the merger since May 2014.

AT&T's move to offer enhanced deals to bring over DirecTV customers to grow its own subscriber base was part of the company's vision for making the acquisition in the first place. The merger turned AT&T into a bigger player with its hands in more markets and a ready pool of new prospects to bring into its business coffers.