The prevalence of online video streaming services like Netflix and Hulu are putting a serious crunch on cable companies across the U.S., as some internet savvy consumers are using a combination of services like these to cut cable out all together. Time Warner Cable is attempting to tackle this issue head on by subsidizing Slingbox purchases for its customers.
The Slingbox is a device that enables a user to remotely view their cable box (or DVR) from any computer on the web. In fact almost any internet connected mobile device can be used seeing as how Slingbox has an app for most mobile phones and tablets currently on the market.
The Slingbox promotion is not going to be available to all Time Warner customers. Only those who have the $99 per month Wideband Internet service will be eligible. Beginning in September, those customers will be able to get a $300 rebate towards the purchase of a Slingbox. The Slingbox in question must be the Slingbox Pro HD, which retails for $299.99.
The New York Times speculated on exactly what Time Warner’s motives could be for a promotion like this. The article stated,
“As a sales promotion, the rebate offer reflects the fact that Internet connectivity, not television, is becoming the core part of the business for companies like Time Warner Cable. But it doubles as something else: as a shot across the bow to cable programmers who say that distributors should pay them more for the right to such place-shifting.”
The only thing I can see Time Warner getting out of this is more customers who bump their internet coverage up to the $99 per month plan. This promotion certainly won’t bring back consumers who have already ditched cable and I can’t imagine people would be willing to jump over to TW from a different provider (and pay for a very expensive Internet plan) just to get a free Slingbox. It will be interesting to see if and how other providers respond to this move.