Cable startup Layer3TV is making its biggest move yet.
The company, which offers broadband-provided access to a traditional bundle of live television programming, has turned on its service in Los Angeles. It's the Denver-based company's largest expansion to date, after rolling out its service in smaller markets including Chicago and Washington, D.C.
Layer3's coverage area in Los Angeles extends north to Malibu, east to Pasadena and south to Newport Beach. The company is offering over 250 channels, including more than 200 in HD - a big selling point for the company as it competes with traditional cable rivals such as Comcast and Spectrum. Los Angeles, says Layer3 CEO Jeff Binder, "is the epicenter of entertainment." He calls it an "extraordinary opportunity" to bring the company's package of 4K and HD programming to the region.
Founded in 2013 by cable and media veterans, Layer3 spent several years building out its technology and negotiating content deals before embarking on a nationwide rollout last fall. Plans start at $89 a month, with the option to add channels like HBO, Showtime and Epix for an additional cost.
In addition to promoting its HD channels, Layer3 also offers no binding contracts, 24/7 customer support, a DVR that records up to eight shows at a time, access to a library of on-demand programming and a user interface designed to feel more like Netflix than Xfinity.
But the company is facing more competition than it did when its founders started out on their plan to reinvent cable for a new generation. Since then, tech companies and traditional media conglomerates have begun releasing their own streaming-based live TV services, among them Sling TV, PlayStation Vue, DirecTV Now, YouTube TV and, soon, a Hulu service.
"Big markets are tough," acknowledges Binder, adding that "there's a lot of noise in the market right now." He won't disclose the company's subscriber numbers, but says Layer3 is adding thousands of member a month. "Customers love the product," he says. "They are buying it and they are keeping it."
Binder also notes that he doesn't see lower-priced skinny bundles, like the ones proffered by YouTube, Dish and others, as a threat to Layer3's business. "Those are not products for consumers who want a broad range of channels and choices," he says. "Those are consumers willing to live with a relatively narrow and, in some cases, weaker set of content and features."
The starting package for Layer3 TV in Los Angeles is the Platinum allHD service, which is currently discounted to $49 per month for the first three months. Additional programming, including Showtime, HBO and packages for sports and music, are available as add-ons.