Comcast to offer TV, movies on iPad

CEO Brian Roberts talk Xfinity app at media conference

Media executives talk an awful lot these days about giving consumers TV shows and movies at any time and on any device.

On Wednesday, Comcast announced services for the iPad and other tablets that go a long way toward fulfilling that promise.

Speaking at a Citi-sponsored media conference in Phoenix, CEO Brian Roberts said that Comcast would offer live news, TV shows and movies through the company’s Xfinity app for the iPad and Android-powered tablets beginning later this year. There is one hitch, though: You will only be able to view that live programming in your house. Roberts did not explain why customers couldn’t view live TV on their iPads anywhere. A Comcast spokeswoman could not explain that restriction either.

Slingbox, owned by EchoStar, is not similarly limited: It allows you to watch your TV live anywhere, including now on an iPad app.

Still, Roberts praised the advances his team has made. He also announced that 3,000 hours of on-demand programming would be available on the iPad app, first introduced in November. Customers can watch those shows anywhere. The Xfinity app has been downloaded 750,000 times since its launch, Roberts said. It is free.

Of viewing programs on the portable device, Roberts said: “This is a better experience than anything we have ever offered.”

The app also lets you access your DVR remotely, as well as search a programming grid. The same is true for Xfinity.com on PCs. A “My TV” feature allows customers to share viewing recommendations with their friends.

A company spokeswoman said the plan is to add more and more hours of on-demand programming beyond the initial 3,000 hours.

It is not clear whether content providers are seeking additional fees for programming distributed on these new devices.