American cable TV giants Comcast have announced their intention of improving their presence in the ‘online’ sector of the market considering the current trend towards ‘cable cutting’ by consumers, and look to stem the flow by revealing a new ‘fully Internet-enabled’ version of their television service, one which will be released by the end of this year.
The planned system, the ‘Xfinity Cloud TV’, is a new set-top box carrying a Comcast subscription (with ‘X1′ service that could in the near future be upgraded to the ‘X2′ interface), and one which will offer live TV and ‘DVR recordings’ via cloud services, accessible through smart devices and desktop as well as traditional cable TV, although an agreement with demands of ‘programming suppliers’ means that the streaming (and by extension, all live content viewing) can only be accessed in the home the subscription is registered in.
Compatible devices with the ‘ecosystem-friendly’ new service will include all iOS and Android smartphones and tablet computers, alongside PCs and Macs, and while the Wi-Fi-based viewing will limit live audiences to their home only, recorded content on the new DVR cloud option ensures on-the-go viewing by downloading video to any of the above-mentioned portable devices. The latter service will also be notable for its ‘operator-friendly’ ability of ‘dynamic insertion’ of real-time adverts across the devices.
The reveal has so far seen Comcast receive plenty of praise from major networks due to the co-operation with them (that co-operation, of course, being centred around retransmission fees) as opposed to less ‘official’ streaming platforms such as Aereo, who are retransmitting for free, while one of Comcast’s main rivals, satellite service Dish Network, are facing similar hassle from Fox over the integration of ‘Slingbox’ streaming technology with their DVR sets, something the latter claims violates their distribution deal.
Speaking at the Cable Show in Washington DC (USA), Comcast’s ‘senior vice-president for product and technology design & development’ Charlie Herrin noted: “We are putting a TV in every person’s hand. It’s the first [TV] guide we’ve built for every screen from the ground up.”
Set for a summer debut in the test markets of Boston and Philadelphia, the currently unpriced ‘Xfinity Cloud TV’ (which will contain 1TB of cloud storage capability with additional storage, multiple simultaneous recording, and multi-device play options) will aim to be available across America by the end of the year, but will their completely in-house effort be a successful draw to the consumers who want more and more of their content to be mobile?