Cox trials IP video service in Orange County, Calif.

Cable operators don't use the term IPTV, but the service Cox Communications is testing in Orange County, Calif., called flareWatch, certainly seems to fit the description of Internet Protocol TV.

Cox spokesman Todd Smith confirmed to FierceIPTV that the cable operator is "testing a video service with a unique user interface as part of a small trial in our Orange County, Calif. market."

A story first published in Variety said subscribers are paying $34.99 per month for 97 live channels and 30 hours of network DVR service via their Cox broadband connection.

With the emphasis on the "small trial" designation, Smith noted that "results and customer feedback will determine if we proceed with future plans." The trial is part of Cox's overall IP-based progression and what it calls a "personalized video experience" that includes individual recommendations for up to eight profiles per household on an advanced user guide that was launched in December 2012, Smith said.

"Already 56 percent of users are saying it has made them aware of content they hadn't known about; 32 percent are enjoying watching TV more and 75 percent strongly agree that it is easy to find recommended shows/movies. The MSO is also prepared to launch a a six-tuner, 2 terabyte whole home DVR/IP Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO) gateway as part of the overall IP-based experience."

The MSO bulked up its Cox TV Connect TV Everywhere service in November 2012 when it added 50 live channels via Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) devices while at the same time setting a timeline that includes Android devices this year. At the time, Cox made the point that Connect TV meant both in-residence and outside-the-home coverage of its TV offerings via broadband connections.

"The emphasis is: we are building an IP video infrastructure capable of both inside-the-home and outside-the-home distribution," Steve Necessary, vice president of video product development and management for Cox, told Multichannel News at the time the service was expanded.

Cox has been dancing around IPTV for some time. In February of this year, the Atlanta-based cable operator said it was teaming with Tulane University on a campuswide IPTV service that, a Tulane press release said, would "serve as a model for future systems."

Orange County, it appears, is just the latest and most refined iteration of the two previous IP-based services. It's a derivation of the company's Internet TV service that uses a Fanhattan Fan TV set-top to deliver a more featured offering at a higher ($99) price.

For more:
- Variety has this story

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Tulane, Cox partner on IPTV service
Cox increases IP-enabled TV Everywhere lineup