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Time Warner Cable tests the 'evolution' of streaming TV in NYC

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Confirming plans Engadget exclusively revealed to you, Time Warner Cable is very close to publicly testing a way for its internet-only customers to get TV services. Fundamentally the big change is that until now, to get TV service and access to its streaming TWC TV app, you needed to be a "TV" customer and have a cable box. Soon, if you're a Time Warner Cable customer in New York City with just internet service, the company will also offer access to its TWC TV Roku Trial. CEO Rob Marcus told investors that the plan is an "evolution" of TWC TV, as customers eventually can get access to video without needing to rent any hardware at all. GVP & GM of Video Product Alix Cottrell told me that the focus for the test is making sure everything is "really easy and straightforward" before it's potentially rolled out to customers outside New York City.

Otherwise, the details are mostly as our sources noted previously. While this package is still only available within Time Warner Cable service areas -- and during the beta only in New York City -- you can add channel options just like any TV customer would, except without requiring a technician to come out and drop off one of its boxes.

Cottrell confirmed that for customers, using the app has the same features customers have come to expect from TWC TV, so while there's no real DVR support what you can get is up to 300 live TV channels, including local broadcast networks and even premium stuff like HBO and Showtime. Also there's video on-demand access with StartOver for certain programs, but no Pay-Per-View or movie rentals, for now.

The provided Roku is a standard Roku 3 unit, so if you want to use it for Netflix, or HBO or any other standard apps, you'll be able to. Similarly, if you want to use your login on another device that has a TWC TV app (iOS, Android, Xbox, Samsung, Kindle), it will work there too. The Roku TV app is only for in-home use, but TWC TV does have some stuff available for out-of-home streaming to your mobile devices, check the channel listing here (PDF) for details. As Cottrell described it, the development of TWC TV is not over either, so we're hoping to see it on more platforms (the new Apple TV and PlayStation, for example) and hopefully the return of DVR features that would level the playing field between cable and internet customers.

Time Warner Cable couldn't confirm what the pricing is until it launches, and right now it's targeting that date for on or around November 9th. Cable TV companies are rapidly becoming more internet providers than cable TV, and this "evolution" is certainly a sign that Time Warner Cable is recognizing the new reality a bit faster than some of its counterparts.

A la carte TV it's not (yet), but there are some "skinny" bundles that make service cheaper and more flexible, and it also saves money that would otherwise be used to rent a cable box many people don't even like. We'll find out soon if that's enough to give cable's second act a better reputation for service and make it ready to fight potential challenges from challengers like Apple, Sling TV and PlayStation going over-the-top -- interested users in New York City can sign up for info on the beta test here.

[Image credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images]

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