×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Cable Show: Comcast Will Stream Live TV, DVR to Array of Connected Devices

Unlike Aereo and Dish's Hopper, Xfinity Cloud TV service will not provide live TV outside the home

WASHINGTON — Comcast is gearing up to launch a fully Internet-enabled television service this year that will provide live TV and DVR recordings on tablets, smartphones and PCs — but in deference to programming suppliers, it’s mostly restricting the service to access within a subscriber’s home.

The Xfinity Cloud TV will be available for Apple iPads and iPhones, as well as Android devices, PCs and Macs. Users can access live TV channels only within their homes over Wi-Fi, but will be able to “check out” DVR content by downloading it to portable devices for viewing on the go.

The service is “ecosystem friendly,” Comcast chief technology officer Tony Werner said. In conjunction with programming partners, the operator will be able to dynamically insert ads in real time on different devices.

Comcast’s approach stands in contrast to the service from Aereo, the startup that is retransmitting local broadcast TV and DVR recordings over the Internet – but isn’t paying the networks to do so. Major broadcasters are suing Aereo for copyright infringement.

Separately, Dish Network is delivering live TV and DVR content to Internet devices using Slingbox technology in its Hopper DVRs. Fox Broadcasting is challenging the Dish Anywhere service as a violation of their distribution deal.

The Comcast Xfinity Cloud TV service will be delivered as part of the X1 service, which the MSO anticipates offering in all markets by the end of 2013. Earlier Tuesday, Comcast topper Brian Roberts announced a user interface enhancement to X1, dubbed “X2,” which includes new web content, social media and recommendation features as well as a voice-enabled remote control.

“We are putting a TV in every person’s hand,” Charlie Herrin, senior VP for product design and development, technology and product development, said at a presentation here at the Cable Show. “It’s the first guide we’ve built for every screen from the ground up.”

While the restrictions on out-of-home viewing will likely disappoint (or confuse) some customers, most TV content viewing on mobile devices actually occurs in the home. About 82% of tablet-based viewing and 64% of smartphone viewing is by consumers at home, according to a study by the Nielsen-funded Council for Research Excellence.

The network DVR service will start with 1 terabyte of storage — enough for up to 170 hours of HD video. Comcast execs noted that customers will be able to add additional storage beyond that, and there also will be an option to record multiple shows simultaneously.

Comcast expects to begin testing Xfinity Cloud TV later this summer in Philadelphia and Boston. Pricing has not been determined.

Initially, the service will be available on Apple iOS, Android, PC and Mac platforms. Comcast hasn’t made any decisions about extending Xfinity Cloud TV to connected-TV devices, such as Microsoft’s Xbox or the Roku set-top, according to execs.

The DVR service will let users start watching a recording on one device, and resume it on another. Both the live TV and DVR recordings are delivered on-the-fly, from one of Comcast’s six primary data centers across the U.S., to a consumer’s home. Comcast will deliver the full channel lineup that’s accessible through its set-tops, and the programming will include closed-captioning and emergency alert system info.

The operator ran a proof-of-concept trial of the streaming TV service at MIT in Cambridge, Mass., over the last year, in which about 3,000 students accessed video on a range of devices.

The Xfinity Cloud TV service was developed in-house by Comcast, whose developers wrote 14.6 million unique lines of code to power the system, according to Werner.

SEE ALSO: Cable Show: Can Comcast Really Make Cable TV Cool and Fun?

More TV

  • Ashley Graham and Christie Brinkley'American Beauty

    Christie Brinkley, Ashley Graham on How 'American Beauty Star' Embraces Diversity

    Lifetime’s “American Beauty Star” has a new second season host who appreciates the contestants’ struggle for success as equally as their battle to break down diversity barriers in the fashion industry. “I have been doing this for almost 20 years… and people are finally catching up to what we’ve always known as normal,” the show’s [...]

  • Shazad Latif, Emily Coutts, Anthony Rapp,

    'Star Trek: Discovery' Boss Talks Tig Notaro, Picard Limited Series and Season 3

    There are many mysteries in the “Star Trek” universe. One of them was explained on Thursday night at the season two premiere party for “Star Trek: Discovery” in New York when showrunner Alex Kurtzman revealed the backstory of how Tig Notaro found her way onto a spaceship in the role of brilliant engineer Jet Reno. [...]

  • Wendy Williams

    Wendy Williams Takes Extended Leave From Daytime Talk Show

    Wendy Williams is taking an extended absence from her eponymous daytime talk show due to health complications after ongoing surgery for a shoulder fracture she said she sustained in December. “Over the past few days, Wendy has experienced complications regarding her Graves’ Disease that will require treatment,” according to a note from her family. “Wendy will [...]

  • Rick Gomez

    'NYPD Blue' Pilot at ABC Adds Rick Gomez in Series Regular Role

    The “NYPD Blue” sequel pilot has cast Rick Gomez in the series regular role of Det. Craig Pettibone, Variety has learned. Pettibone is studying law at night with the goal of passing the bar one day. Although he hasn’t passed it yet, he’s aggressive enough to be already drumming up clients by passing out his business [...]

  • Set di "Gomorra 3", regia di

    'My Brilliant Friend,' 'Gomorrah' Show Different Sides of Naples

    When Saverio Costanzo, the director of HBO and RAI’s “My Brilliant Friend,” started to plan how he would depict the grand but gritty city of Naples — one that’s so vivid in the imaginations of millions of Elena Ferrante readers, he quickly decided that the working-class neighborhood at the core of her four Neapolitan novels [...]

  • RENT: Top L-R to Bottom L-R:

    How Fox's Live Version of 'Rent' Honors and 'Enhances' Jonathan Larson's Vision

    In the more than 20 years since Jonathan Larson’s “Rent” first debuted on Broadway, the conversation of adaptation has often come up: Film director Chris Columbus infamously brought the story to the big screen in 2005, Michael John Warren similarly shot one of the final performances of the original theater run in 2008, and talk [...]

  • Conversations With a Killer: The Ted

    TV Review: 'Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes'

    The title “Conversations With a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes,” Netflix’s new four-part documentary series launching Jan. 24, is slightly misleading. Not about its subject, Bundy, the infamous serial killer who finally confessed to some 30 murders before his 1989 death in the electric chair. The misnomer is “Conversations.” While we hear Bundy’s voice on [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content