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Charter launching OTT TV service with Viacom as key supplier

US cable operator Charter Communications has become the latest operator in the market to launch a low-cost OTT TV offering, in its case targeted exclusively at its own broadband-only subscribers.

Spectrum TV Essentials is targeted at Charter subscribers that don’t take the operator’s pay TV services. The service, to be launched at the end of March, will include over 60 channels and access to associated on-demand content. Charter has struck agreements with programmers including Viacom, Discovery, A&E, AMC and Hallmark to populate the service.

Tom Rutledge

The service will be available for US$14.99 a month plus tax, with no fees or installation charges. The line-up will be available through the Spectrum TV App on devices including iOS and Android phones and tablets, Apple TV, Roku, Xbox One, Amazon Kindle Fire, Samsung Smart TVs and computers via SpectrumTV.com.

In the coming months, Charter plans to introduce a Cloud DVR service on the Spectrum TV App.

In addition to the channels on the service, from May Spectrum Originals will be available to Spectrum TV Essential customers.

Viacom is a key partner in the venture, which chimes with Viacom CEO Bob Bakish’s strategy of targeting skinny bundle offerings in the US as an underserved market for content.

“Spectrum TV Essentials is an OTT offering designed to provide Spectrum Internet-only customers a new low-price, high-value video option. As we began to assemble the rights for this new video service, we received great enthusiasm and encouragement from these key programming partners, who share our view and embrace creating an innovative video offering we believe will resonate with our internet customers. Notably, Viacom shared its strong belief and research that suggests there is a large untapped opportunity for a low-priced, entertainment-only bundle unencumbered by the high cost of broadcast retransmission consent fees and expensive sports programming,” said Tom Rutledge, Charter chairman and CEO.

“We’re thrilled to expand and deepen our relationship with Charter. They share both our commitment to the evolution of the the Pay TV ecosystem as well as our understanding of the changing needs of consumers. As the video marketplace continues to segment across price points and offerings, we believe a high quality, lower priced option for internet-only subscribers is very important.   We’re excited to have our global brands as part of Spectrum TV Essentials at launch,” said Viacom’s Bakish.