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Cable Technology Feature Article

October 01, 2014

Comcast Rolls X1 Cloud-based Multiscreen DVR in Bay Area, Houston

By Tara Seals, TMCnet Contributor

Comcast (News - Alert) is extending the value of its DVR services with the rollout of the X1 DVR with cloud technology in the San Francisco Bay Area and Houston.

Customers will be able to stream and download their recorded DVR programs to any Internet-connected device; and while in the home, turn any mobile device into a television with the ability to stream virtually the entire channel line-up and Xfinity On Demand catalog.

 “It’s clear that for many people, life does not operate around a primetime television schedule,” said Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager of video services at Comcast Cable. “And even if you’re home when your favorite show is on, you may be preoccupied in another room or over-ruled by someone else in the family who wants to watch something else.”

To untether recordings from the TVs in the home, users can load up the Xfinity TV app on a phone or tablet, tap a list of DVR recordings and start streaming content straight to the device. Or, if a person knows they’re going to be on a plane without an Internet connection, they can download a movie or show to a device and watch it later.

That same app also now gives the full X1 TV set of features like the channel guide.

Live in-home streaming and X1 DVR with cloud technology are already available in Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Philadelphia and Washington D.C., and the company said that it expects most of its X1 customers will have access to the features by the end of year.

Next-gen user interfaces that leverage the cloud to offer more multiscreen and hybrid TV experiences are becoming increasingly important differentiators for cable MSOs as they strive to win and hang onto younger viewers.

ABI Research (News - Alert) points out that Comcast’s X1 service (as well as DirecTV’s Genie, Liberty Global’s Horizon and DISH’s Hopper) all centralize DVR resources (minimizing DVR conflicts), and offer IP integration. Overall these experiences will support multiscreen gambits as well as the addition of cloud-based managed applications as operators look to extend other services beyond the basic triple-play into homes.

For instance, Comcast is planning to start limited tests for a new hybrid TV service that brings YouTube (News - Alert)-like online video capabilities to its X1 cable set-top boxes.  Trials should start by the end of the year. The experiment will involve a dedicated app that’s accessible via the STB; and “content creators” can upload their own videos to the server to make them available to viewers. Producers will likely be able to wrap in advertising or use a transactional fee model.

Edited by Alisen Downey

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