Charter's OTT trial turns up in St Louis; operator still mum on strategy

Charter's (NASDAQ: CHTR) trial of a streaming skinny video bundle has reportedly hit St. Louis, with local paper the Post-Dispatch reporting that select residents have been offered the IP-based service.

The scope of the trials remains unclear, though they appear to be focused in the Midwest. Charter has so far not commented on its strategy.

Last month, reports emerged that Charter had begun testing a new, $12.99-a-month streaming service that includes local broadcast channels plus a premium cable channel, either HBO or Showtime. A $7 upgrade adds 16 additional top cable channels, including ESPN and TBS. The price out the door for the full package is around $27 a month.

The service, dubbed "Spectrum Stream Plus," also ships with a Roku 3 streaming player. Initial reports had trials of the service surfacing in Madison, Wis.

But Charter isn't the only MSO testing streaming services. Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) recently provided details of its own tests of an IP-based bundle in New York City. 

Speaking on TWC's third quarter earnings call, Rob Marcus, the MSO's chairman and CEO, said TWC is interested more in driving down CPE costs than capturing the hearts and minds of broadband-only, millennial-aged customers.

However, Marcus' counterpart, Charter President and CEO Tom Rutledge, deflected a question about the OTT trials during his MSO's third-quarter call, coyly redirecting it toward Charter's TV Everywhere apps.

"In terms of streaming, we sell cable television services using IP technology and MPEG technology," he said. "And people call over the top streaming and they call IP streaming, and what we're selling is cable television in applications. And we have 1.4 million customers who have downloaded our apps and used those apps to receive cable television on their iOS platforms, their Android platforms and now on their Roku platform. So, we continue to expand the platforms that the app system is available, but it's cable television."

For more:
- read this St. Louis Post-Dispatch story

Related articles:
TWC, CBS and others rush into an OTT future, but some strategies make way more sense than others
TWC's Marcus: Streaming strategy is about getting rid of set-tops, not skinny bundles
Charter quietly offering Sling TV-like streaming bundle to Midwestern customers, report says

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