What Will Comcast Charge to Get Live TV on Tablets?


Comcast is taking its time getting to the live-TV-on-your-tablet party.

And unlike others that have already launched iPad apps for live, in-home streaming — including Time Warner Cable, Cablevision, Bright House and DirecTV — Comcast will probably charge extra for the service.

The operator is gearing up to launch AnyPlay, a transcoding device that takes MPEG-2 and spits it out as MPEG-4 for display on tablets, in two unidentified cities in the next few weeks, CNN reported.

The MSO previously outlined the AnyPlay device in an October filing with the FCC, saying it will be initially available for Apple iPads and Motorola Xoom tablets, with other devices to follow (see Comcast To Test IPTV Service For PCs And Macs). Motorola Mobility — which makes the device (which it calls Televation) — demo’d it at the 2011 Cable Show (see Motorola Develops Slingbox-Like Device With Comcast).

Comcast still isn’t talking about pricing or specific availability of AnyPlay.

However, given that Comcast is delivering its live-TV tablet service using a piece of customer-premises equipment, it seems likely that the MSO will offer AnyPlay for a few bucks per month to offset the cost of the hardware. Or, it’s possible Comcast will sell it for a one-time fee.

Or, as another possibility, Comcast may offer AnyPlay only to subs that take a certain level of service — say, those taking Blast, Extreme 50 or Extreme 105 broadband (the way it’s offering Wi-Fi cable voice gateways to those customers instead of standard cable-voice modems).

In any case, it’s surely not going to be free to all Comcast video subscribers.

The AnyPlay/Televation device has the advantage of being able to deliver the full TV lineup — to the cable headend, it essentially looks like another set-top box. On the other hand, whereas TWC and Cablevision subscribers got access to those operators’ free iPad apps on Day One, Comcast’s rollout of AnyPlay will be one at a time.

How much would you be willing to pay for Comcast’s AnyPlay? You’d think Comcast would add DVR features to it (a capability of the Televation platform) to make it more attractive.

AnyPlay, by the way, was previously the name of a portable DVR player Comcast developed with Panasonic three years ago, but never commercially launched (see Comcast, Panasonic Sell Portable Digital Video Recorders).


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