Layer3 TV starts in Jan.
In the coming weeks, the mysterious Layer3 TV will be — or should be — a mystery no more. The Denver company shared plans with The Denver Post that include signing up interested local customers Thursday for its new cable TV service. First come, first served.
“Layer3 TV is going to launch in Denver in the middle of January,” said Eric Kuhn, Layer3’s chief marketing officer. “And those people who do subscribe early, we’ll call you when we’re ready to rock and roll. And you’ll be the first on your block to get the new cable TV.”
Layer3, as far as we can tell, is nothing like anything that has launched in the TV market this year. Mainly, it’s not internet TV, or over-the-top service, like Sling TV or DirecTV Now. Having already launched in Chicago, Layer3 is marketed as the cable TV service worth paying for because it has an excessive number of high-definition channels, superior customer service and no hidden fees. As part of its Denver launch, it’s discounting monthly plans by $10 in the first year.
But how it will deliver all this to Denver remains a mystery — for now.
“We are a cable company,” said Lindsay Gardner, Layer3’s chief content officer. “We’re Denver’s newest cable company. You can’t get us over the internet. We’ve got installers who show up at your home.”
Unlike Comcast or CenturyLink, Layer3 isn’t registered as a cable franchise, which is required for cable companies that use public property to run cables, according to the city of Denver.
Layer3’s video technology does require internet service, but Layer3 calls it a “private IPTV” line. This is to ensure that video quality is superior and to avoid the buffering issues one might see on a Saturday night while binge-watching Netflix at the same time all your neighbors are too.
Official reviews of the service are rare. One user, Kapil, on a DSLReports.com forum shared that he tried the service and
was told Layer3 recommended users have 75 mbps internet service at home. “Kapil” ended up canceling after the trial period because of “unresolved issues” but called the service “promising.”
Gardner says it’s more like “concierge cable,” and the Wall Street Journal said it’s geared toward “highend video customers.”
While new internet TV services like Sling TV stripped away channels to get down to a $20 starting price, Layer3 does the opposite. The lineup includes more than 250 channels, including Disney, Showtime and all the Viacom channels. And prices, at least in Chicago, hover in the $120 range for the core package, according to The Chicago Tribune.
“The $120 per month core package might cause some sticker shock among consumers. Compounding it, the fact that the consumer then also must pay a traditional operator for a robust broadband connection may face resistance in the market,” said Glenn Hower, senior research analyst with market researcher Parks Associates.
With fast cable internet running at least $30 to $40 a month, the overall cost probably will cause existing cable customers to stick with what they have, he added
“It will be interesting to see if Layer3’s model of premium service with what seems like a lot of available sleek value-adds will compete in a similar market like Sling TV, which is really pushing a no-frills BYOD (bring your own device) model,” Hower said. “In a sense, it’s like watching comprehensive service airlines like Lufthansa or Virgin Atlantic duke it out with low-cost carriers like Ryanair or EasyJet.”
On Thursday, Layer3 plans to announce it has finalized deals to add the NFL Network and NFL RedZone. It also has all seven of the Pac 7 channels. In HD, of course.
Prices will be “competitive to what you have,” Kuhn said.
For competitive reasons, Layer3 wouldn’t share which areas in Denver might qualify for installation and service. But, added Gardner, “Our ambition is to serve all of Denver eventually.”
In May 2014, Layer3 announced plans to move its Boston headquarters to Denver after receiving $2.9 million in job-growth incentives from the state, plus business personal property tax credits from the city. At the time, the company said it expected to create 312 new jobs in Denver that pay an average wage of $92,083.
It opened its office near Union Station that fall and began recruiting cable and TV executives from all over, including Gardner, whose past jobs include gigs with Fox Networks and Cox Cable.
More recently, Gardner was helping with other chores, which included taking one of the all-electric BMW i3s for service at Schomp BMW.
“We all do every job here,” Gardner said.
Layer3, which has raised about $80 million from investors, now employs 160 people nationwide, with the majority at its downtown or Denver Tech Center offices.
The electric Layer3 TV BMW i3 will be used to install cable service for Denver customers. Provided by Layer3 TV