Set-Top Be Gone


Jared Baumann, Manager of Market Development and Deployment for C Spire, provides an update of their journey towards the elimination of the set-top box. To be more precise, this is about C Spire’s goal of allowing customers to access content on the device or screen of their choosing without having to rent a set-top box from C Spire.

Baumann reports that the early results are phenomenal, as customers love not having set-top fees and they love the new C Spire TV user interface. As with other apps, people are becoming accustomed to bringing their own devices, whether an Amazon Fire TV, Apple TV, or Nvidia Shield TV, and are enjoying the freedom to view where and when they want.  He explains that new subscribers are being added to this new middleware platform, while existing subscribers are moved to the new service as they desire.

To this point, the marketing effort has been relatively low-key, but the social media buzz has driven it beyond Baumann’s expectations. He indicates the new video offering has, in part, generated an upswell of interest in their fiber product, and, in the above interview, hints at the announcement made today about C Spire’s aggressive bid to add over 250k broadband subscribers via a combination of fiber and fixed wireless.

The difference and the advantage of C Spire’s app-based approach where the set-top functions are decoupled from underlying hardware is that the feature update and bug fix cycle time is reduced. Baumann explains that they are providing new releases every six weeks, allowing for continual improvements and support for additional devices and screens.

Right now, their focus is on providing full Multichannel Video Programming Distribution (e.g. Cable/IPTV services) over their own infrastructure, but hints that they are interested in working with other MVPDs in need of a video middleware solution. The announcement of next week’s workshop at their headquarters is another indication that they are formally looking to help other operators adopt their approach.