Comcast X1 Expands to 10 Markets

Next Update of Cloud-Based Platform Will Enable X1 Subs to Watch and Record Up to Five Shows Concurrently

Comcast has launched its IP-capable X1 video platform in 10 markets following recent debuts in markets such as Independence, Mo., and Washington, D.C., company senior vice president and general manager of video services Marcien Jenckes revealed on the MSO's blog Wednesday night. 

Following the initial commercial launch in Boston in mid-2012, X1 is now also available in Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chattanooga, Tenn.; Philadelphia;  New Jersey; Colorado; and a handful of California markets, including the San Francisco Bay Area, Sacramento, Fresno, Stockton, and Santa Barbara.

Jenckes noted that more “major markets will be launched soon” as Comcast prepares to bring X1 to  half its service footprint by the end of June, and to all markets by the end of 2013.

X1 features a cloud-based interface that feeds data from the Comcast facility in Centennial, Colo. Comcast has also stitched in a handful of applications, including Facebook and Pandora and sports and news widgets. The X1 “Last Nine” feature shows viewers the last nine shows and channels viewed with a single tap of the remote. The search component sifts for programs across live TV, Comcast’s video-on-demand service and programs recorded to the customer’s DVR.  

The next version of the user interface, internally called “X2,” will add several enhancements, including a personalized recommendation engine. Comcast is expected to show off the goods at next month's Cable Show in Washington, D.C.

Comcast has not revealed how many customers are on X1, but the MSO is pitching it primarily to new triple play customers as it tries to slow down and reverse video subscriber losses. Comcast reported Wednesday that it lost 60,000 video subs in the first quarter, almost twice the 37,000 it lost in the year-ago quarter, while snapping its nine-quarter run of basic video subscriber improvement. 

X1, currently delivered to customers via a hybrid QAM/IP HD-DVR made by Pace, is being built on OpenStack, an open-source cloud operating system. The aim there is to accelerate app development as Comcast breaks away from its legacy and relatively closed  video platform. 

To illustrate the agility that X1 brings, Jenckes noted that Comcast has completed nearly 200 updates to the X1 platform in 2013 alone, and north of 1,200 updates since 2011. He hinted that an update coming in May will enable customers to watch and record up to five shows at the same time.