Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

Summary: Time Warner Cable accepts the reality of consumers' need for Internet-connected TV with an upcoming Slingbox promotion.

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It's no secret that cable companies are suffering financially across the country. That's mainly thanks to the rise of easier and improved HD video streaming from services like Netflix, Hulu Plus and others that offer plenty of content at a far cheaper price. And it's not like cable companies are known for their charming customer service agents.

Well, these companies have to do something to stay afloat. Time Warner Cable tried to go a different route with a home entertainment service, SignatureHome, that tries to make its customers (who are willing to pay more) to feel like they're having special and better treatment.

Now, it's pulling a more drastic move: it's going to subsidize Slingbox purchases. Yes, that box that technically enables buyers to be able to sling their cable accounts to multiple screens worldwide from just one paid account.

However, only select customers are going to be eligible -- those who pay for the $99-a-month Wideband Internet service. Starting this September, they will receive a rebate worth $300 to purchase the device. (Presumably, that allotment is intended for the Slingbox Pro HD, which retails for $299.99. There are a few other solutions from Sling that are a bit cheaper.)

The move comes across as a bit peculiar at first, but Time Warner has definitive motives. The New York Times reports:

As a sales promotion, the rebate offer reflects the fact that Internet connectivity, not television, is becoming the core part of the business for companies like Time Warner Cable. But it doubles as something else: as a shot across the bow to cable programmers who say that distributors should pay them more for the right to such place-shifting.

The NYT adds that this promotion is also intended to remind "programmers that there are other ways to port channels to different screens and places, though it wouldn’t admit to such a tactic on the record.

At the end of the day, this deal is to get customers onboard with Wideband, and nothing else really. This promotion is probably not going to do much for Time Warner as a cable company, but it could entice subscribers into paying for faster (and therefore, more expensive) Internet packages to be able to keep up with the Slingbox and similar Internet-connected devices.

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  • RE: Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

    If viewers want TV over the internet, there's no reason to go out and buy set top box, you can get the broadcasts online using software from services like the TVDevo website . This type of solution is cheaper and easier than going out and buying an "Internet TV" set.
    JenniferWeb
  • RE: Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

    The question, is that going to cause to go over your data cap because they can link all the content streamed through all your boxes to your account. There is no way on earth that they will subsidized this without knowing they'll recover the cost in months.
    holy_steven
  • I dont need an internet

    I dont need an internet connected TV I need lower prices and a choise of channels. Its just that simple.
    Stan57
  • Who uses this?

    If your at home why are you not watching TV on your TV. If your traveling, why are you not watching TV in your Hotel room? Your paying for it. I can't even imagine overseas travelers will find that many decent enough connections to stream your TV programs effectively. My advice to Cable companies is I don't need more packages. I need to be able to choose what channels I pay for. I only want to pay for what I use. Can you understand that?
    jscott418-22447200638980614791982928182376
  • RE: Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

    I once worked as an installation subcontractor for Time Warner Cable. Like other cable companies, it was and remains a rotten corporate culture. Thus, no matter how they shake and dance within their business model, their problem will remain.

    Beyond the chronically poor customer service offered by any near-monopoly, their problem is that Internet-streamed TV gives people what they want for a lower price than cable. I have Verizon FIOS broadband, over which I get streamed TV with a Roku player that offers a wide choice of free channels as well as a choice of Hulu Plus, Netflix, and Amazon Instant Video. I don't like Hulu's range of offerings, so I subscribe to Netflix and to Amazon using Prime. I also use Google Talk to make VOIP calls at no charge. So, for <i>significantly</i> less money than I'd pay TWC for their cable-Internet-phone package, I get pretty much what I want in all three areas.

    Until the cable companies see how their lunch is being eaten and offer something of comparable value, they will continue suffering the way the music industry is suffering. "Adapt or die" is a law of life.
    mliccione
  • RE: Time Warner Cable starts to cave with subsidized Slingboxes

    ...problem with cable and satellite providers is the channels they carry. What I hate the most is the constant barrage at the bottom of the screen of promos and ads on the show I'm watching. Commercials are for that! I WAS watching Frasier on one of the channels and they play the SAME selected shows over and over...and they wonder why people disconnect!!!!
    SoundGammon
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