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Cable Technology Feature Article

May 05, 2014

Comcast Nears Gaming Deal with EA for Xfinity X1

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Comcast (News - Alert), the No. 1 cable MSO, is close to an agreement with EA to stream casual and family games via its cloud-connected X1 set-top box.

Five sources briefed on the plans told Reuters that the two are close to signing a partnership after two years of testing. The first offerings will be popular titles like FIFA, Plants vs. Zombies and Madden. Customers will be able to use their tablets as controllers to play the games.

The idea is to make buying games “as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie,” sources said, which brings the experience into line with the Xbox Live and PS4 online experiences. So, it opens up a new revenue stream, but the EA deal will also address a new battlefront in the over-the-top (OTT) arena as well. Amazon Fire TV was released with more than 100 free and paid games; and Apple (News - Alert) TV and the Google Chromecast dongle both allow users to stream or “cast” games from their phones and tablets to TV sets. Gaming is clearly a must-have content category for the digital entertainment experience going forward.

Comcast continues to add to the X1 functionality. It started selling movies for download and streaming via the website and the XFINITY TV website last fall. And more recently, it announced that it’s readying a series of new X1 updates, including the ability to live stream personal video from their mobile devices to the TV—a functionality that may also be familiar from the Apple ecosystem. That feature is expected to become available by the beginning of 2015.

It’s also trying to stay ahead of the IPTV (News - Alert) and satellite competition by adding the ability to customize the program guide with favorite networks showing first, plus Instant On Demand, which allow customers to begin watching shows via the Xfinity On Demand menu immediately after the live broadcast begins.

On the apps front, it’s working on the Xfinity Home App, which will allow Xfinity Home customers to adjust thermostats, manage lighting and watch home security camera footage via the TV. Family Point, meanwhile, will enable families at home to see the most recent location of family members who are connected via their smartphones, and to leave “sticky notes” for each other that will appear on the TV screen. And, it’s porting home voicemail to the TV so customers can play back and record voicemails on the TV, along with visual voicemail. 

Edited by Rory J. Thompson

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