Cox to deploy MetaTV, exceeds RGU guidance in 4Q
Interactive-television software company MetaTV said it has inked a deal to provide iTV services for Cox Communications in a number of selected, but undisclosed, cities.
Under the deal, MetaTV will design, develop, deploy and manage Cox-branded iTV services. MetaTV said its software platform operates on Cox's legacy headends and set-tops, opening the door for customer access to news, sports and entertainment content as well as TV-centric games.
Cox said the iTV platform will complement its digital cable service. Cox had 1,386,039 digital customers at the end of the fourth quarter. Cox did not disclose when it plans to begin rolling out MetaTV's platform to customers.
Cox and MetaTV's relationship predates the deployment deal. Cox participated in a round of MetaTV funding in April 2001 that netted about $28 million. Comcast Interactive Capital was the other lead investor in the investment round.
On the financial front, Cox said it added 317,000 new revenue generating units (RGUs) in the fourth quarter, and ended the year with more than 2.7 million RGUs. Those figures exceeded the company's earlier guidance of between 1 million and 1.1 million RGU additions for 2001. RGUs refer to customers who took a new video, data or telephony service.
Cox also reported a wider net loss, due in part to a $155.7 million charge to transition Cox@Home data customers to the MSO's own network. However, revenues rose 14 percent to $1.08 billion, thanks to subscriber growth in key service areas such as high-speed data and digital video.
Cox had an aggregate 883,562 high-speed customers on Dec. 31, marking a penetration rate of 9.8 percent. Cox also added about 55,000 digital telephony customers in the fourth quarter, ending the year with nearly 500,000 phone subscribers.
Cox Business Services also saw growth by the end of 2001, servicing just north of 1.7 million voice grade equivalent circuits, up from 1.2 million at the end of 2000.