Comcast wants to turn customers' iPads and other mobile devices into a combination of mobile video player and next-generation remote control with its free Xfinity TV app, launched Monday.
Starting in December, the app will let Comcast subscribers in some markets watch movies and TV shows directly on an iPad anytime. Initially, Comcast will offer "hit shows and blockbuster movies" from premium networks on the app.
Over the following months, Comcast said, it will continue expand the content -- to provide "thousands" of choices -- and functionality available with the app through a series of regular development updates. At the 2010 CTAM Summit last month, Comcast senior vice president of video product development Todd Walker said the MSO expected updates every 90 days for its mobile apps.
The initial 1.0 release of the Xfinity TV app, which became available Monday in Apple's iTunes Store, provides the ability to search or browse across TV listings and video-on-demand and lets users change TV channels from the iPad. Customers also can set their DVRs to record TV shows, series and movies, sort content based on different filters like networks and genres such as by movies, kids, sports or HD content.
The app's features are available in Comcast markets that have converted to the "Xfinity" branding and services rollout.
Other upcoming features will include a "MyTV" feature to create a watchlist of favorite TV shows and movies, and the ability to access social networking sites to let users share what they're watching.
In May, Comcast chairman and CEO Brian Roberts kicked off the industry's iPad mania, showing off a demo of an early prototype in his keynote at the NCTA's 2010 Cable Show.
"This Xfinity TV app is part of a much larger effort to reinvent the way consumers interact with their televisions by transforming the way they search, navigate, discover and share entertainment," Comcast president Neil Smit said in a statement. "The remote control hasn't changed in years and this app will enable millions of consumers to instantly search thousands of live TV and on-demand choices and also watch the best content whenever and wherever they want."
Comcast also said it will launch several Android apps this year, and also plans to offer apps with similar functionality BlackBerrys and other smartphones, tablets, laptops and PCs. The MSO first offered a communications app on the iTunes Store for free in 2009, which lets customers to view integrated e-mail, voicemail, receive home voicemail alerts and manage calendars, among other features.
More info on the iPad app is available at www.xfinity.com/tvapp. Comcast is planning to demonstrate the app Monday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco.
Other pay-TV providers that are actively developing or have launched companion apps for mobile devices include Time Warner Cable, Dish Network, Verizon FiOS and Cablevision Systems. Last week, for example, Verizon launched Flex View to let FiOS TV customers access VOD content on multiple devices.