Comcast: Nearly 30 Companies Have Asked About TV App Program

Samsung, Roku already on board to offer app on their CE platforms
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Almost 30 companies have put in inquires to Comcast about a new  Xfinity TV Partner Program introduced Wednesday (April 20) that will enable CE partners  to offer the MSO’s full suite of video services, including live, VOD and cloud DVR recordings to their respective retail devices.

Samsung is the first TV maker to join the initiative, and Comcast has also announced a deal with Roku that will bring its authenticated Xfinity TV partner app to its streaming players and integrated TVs that are powered by its OS. CE companies interested in the program can register or participate in it at no cost, though they will be expected to bear the costs for development, marketing, and integration.

Comcast announced the program and as the FCC looks to create new rules aimed at “unlocking” the set-top box. Comcast, which filed comments (PDF) today panning that rulemaking effort, holding that  a government mandate is unnecessary amid a market that is already working under an app-driven economy.

“Our Roku and Xfinity Partner announcements are doing exactly what the statute seeks by offering our service on competitive devices available through retail outlets,” David Cohen, SVP and chief diversity officer of Comcast, wrote in this blog post.

Since the announcement about the program and the partnerships with  Samsung and Roku, Comcast has received “inquiries from almost 30 other companies including some of the biggest tech companies as well as new startups,” Cohen said, claiming that it’s “evidence that CE manufacturers want to offer these apps-based solutions to their customers to access our service. What the FCC is doing far exceeds its authority under the statute and ignores this marketplace progress.”

Comcast isn’t identifying by name who made the inquiries about the program. TiVo, which is in favor of new rules that would establish a successor to the CableCARD , said on Wednesday that it had nothing in the works regarding Comcast’s new Xfinity TV app program, “but we’re always open to discussions.”

The FCC was skeptical when Comcast announced its Xfinity TV apps program in part because it appears to center on a proprietary UI controlled by the MSO and “seems to allow only Comcast content on different devices, rather than allowing those devices to integrate or search across Comcast content as well as other content consumers subscribe to.” The FCC also acknowledged that it didn’t know all of the details of the announcement at the time.

In the blog, Cohen claimed that the FCC’s dismissive view on the announcements also mischaracterized them. “The Commission is wrong that our new Xfinity TV Partner App with Samsung and Roku would ‘only allow  Comcast content on different devices’,” Cohen wrote. “Whether on a Roku or on a Samsung TV, all the apps that consumers can currently use to access video content will still be available to them.  They’ll just also be able to access Xfinity TV content through this app on popular retail devices and without having to lease a set-top box.”

Cohen added that those consumers will also continue to have access to other apps and services using the interfaces designed by the likes of Netflix, Hulu, and HBO.

“In addition, they will get whatever umbrella user interface and search functionality that the device itself provides, user interfaces that Samsung and Roku already have for all of their other apps,” he said.

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