Comcast Eyes Hook-Ups


New York — Comcast — which is
planning to deliver on-demand content
through Microsoft’s Xbox 360
around Christmas — is also aiming
to extend VOD to game consoles
from Sony and Nintendo, as well as
connected TVs and devices like the
Roku set-top, Sam Schwartz, president
of Comcast Converged Products,
said on a CTAM in New York

“We want to be on screens that consumers
want us to be on,” Schwartz said.

But Comcast won’t try to emulate Netflix,
which makes its service available on more
than 200 consumer-electronics devices, because
of the expense of maintaining all those

“I don’t envy Netflix’s maintenance task,”
Schwartz said. “What people don’t realize is,
once you port to a platform, you’re going to
have to live with that device for a long time.”

In addition to the three game consoles
— Xbox, Sony’s Play-
Station 3 and Nintendo’s Wii — Comcast expects
to provide Xfinity On Demand through
“a couple of the TV manufacturers,” including
LG Electronics and Samsung Electronics,
and Roku Internet-connected set-top boxes,
Schwartz said.

At the same time, Schwartz said, it remains
to be seen how many consumers gravitate
toward other devices.

“Nobody knows how much consumers
want to go to input B,” Schwartz said, referring
to the source selection on a TV. “Input A,
that’s where they spend five, six hours a day.”

The Xbox feature will become available
to Comcast Xfinity broadband and TV customers
in the “Christmas-ish” time frame,
Schwartz said. That will provide a “rich navigation
experience,” he added, including cover
art and the ability to scroll through titles
using the game controller, or with Microsoft’s
Kinect gesture- and voice-recognition
attachment that lets users wave their hands
in midair or speak voice commands.

Schwartz also discussed Comcast’s Xcalibur
project, which provides an advanced
user interface and Internet-connected apps
including weather, traffic, Pandora and Facebook.
The Xcalibur service — which is now
in a 1,000-household trial in Augusta, Ga. —
was demonstrated by Comcast CEO Brian
Roberts at the 2011 Cable Show.

“Next year is when we take it across the
country,” he said.

A key goal of Xcalibur is to provide better
search and navigation features. “There’s almost
a Chinese wall between the grid, VOD
and DVR,” Schwartz said. “This is one, usercentric
view of the content.”

In the Augusta trial, the traffic and weather
apps have been the two most popular.
Schwartz noted that more than 50% of people
are choosing to set up Facebook accounts
through the Xcalibur guide.