to stream new local TV service


Updated. could soon be one of the first ISPs to introduce a TV service delivered over its broadband service. With the filing of a video franchise application with California’s Public Utilities Commission, Sonic is on its way to creating its own streaming video service.

Until recently, Sonic operated as a standalone broadband ISP that competed with local cable Internet and DSL providers. But it has gradually increased the number of services that run over its pipes. Last September, Sonic launched a combined broadband and voice-over-IP voice offering.

Now, a year later, it’s adding video to its service offerings. While waiting on video franchise approval, has partnered with DirecTV to offer a bundled broadband and satellite “triple play” offering. And the filing with the California Public Utilities Commission shows that it could soon introduce its own TV services, which would be streamed over its pipes.

Sonic CEO Dane Jasper has hinted at the possibility of rolling out an over-the-top TV offering in the past, surveying web users asking whether they would pay for a low-cost local TV service streamed to an Internet-connected device like a Roku box. In the most recent poll, Jasper received 227 votes, with nearly half of all respondents (49 percent) saying they would pay $5 for such a service, and an additional 16 percent saying they would pay $10 or $15.

“The DirecTV triple play gives us a compelling multichannel lineup, while the franchise application moves us toward offering local channels over IP,” Sonic CEO Dane Jasper wrote in an email.

According to Jasper, the TV service would be a limited offering of local channels and would be mainly offered as a complement to other over-the-top services like Netflix and Hulu Plus already available on the streaming devices. While final pricing and content availability are still up in the air, Sonic’s proposed launch of a streaming TV offering could pave the way for other local ISPs to launch similar services.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Esparta Palma.

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