Cable operator opens up “Xfinity TV” to high-speed Internet subscribers
Comcast today announced that it is opening up its on-demand service – dubbed Fancast Xfinity TV – to its high-speed internet and cable subscribers.
The service, which Comcast tested this summer, is part of the cable operator’s contribution to the industry’s “TV Everywhere” concept, which Time Warner chief executive Jeff Bewkes has been trumpeting for close to a year.
Comcast said Xfinity — which has content deals with about 30 networks, including HBO, Starz, Cinemax, MTV, CBS, Fox and of course NBC — will be available to the majority of its 15.7 million high-speed internet subscribers who also subscribe to its cable channels, its so-called “dual-play” customers.
Comcast said it hopes to offer the service to video-only customers “within the next six months.”
During a conference call with reporters Tuesday, Comcast executives stressed that despite the expansion, the service is “still in beta.” (“It’s still very much the first inning,” one executive said during the call.)
But the goal, Comcast interactive president Amy Banse said, is to “change the way people watch video online” – and to allow eventually customers to access video content “anytime, anywhere on any device.”
Xfinity is launching with more than 900 on-demand movies from its premium cable channel partners like HBO. Showtime is the notable holdout, but Comcast said the companies are “in discussions.”
One thing that’s largely missing from the content Xfinity is launching with: HD. There’s only a smattering of HD content available at the moment, although the company is in the process of uploading more.
Just how Xfinity will fit in with Hulu — or if it will replace Hulu – after Comcast’s acquisition of NBC Universal is unclear. Comcast executives sidestepped the question Tuesday, saying only that they “hope the amount of (on-demand) content will continue to grow.”
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