Comcast is one of America’s biggest cable providers, but unlike the other cable giants, the company is embracing digital content streaming instead of fighting against it. Netflix and Hulu have gathered a large chunk of the television and movie watching public by offering inexpensive services that work with a variety of devices that hook up to your television. Instead of just steaming movies to your laptop or computer, you can watch your Netflix queue on your HDTV through a Wii, Xbox 360 or other compatible device. Comcast wants to get in on this part of the game and has released new information on how they plan to do it.
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The service is going to be called Xcalibur, and it will be an optional part of the currently available Xfinity internet packages. The first Xfinity video on demand service will be released in time for Christmas this year, but will only be supported by the Xbox 360. This won’t be Comcast’s only video on demand offering over an Internet connected device. The Xcalibur program will be expanded to at least include, the Roku, Playstation 3 and Wii devices, with other Internet enabled device options to come later in 2012.
Xcalibur isn’t just another cable video on demand program. If it goes as planned, this program will allow subscribers to Comcast to access most of the content that they can receive through their cable box on a variety of Internet devices. Comcast shows and movies could be streamed to a customer’s mobile phone, tablet or television connected game system. This allows for more flexibility and would let subscribers enjoy their cable service even when they’re traveling or away from home. Constant access through Internet protocol is one of the things that the cable industry is failing at, and it’s costing them business.
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Comcast already allows limited access to pre-recorded content through their mobile app, but Xcalibur would allow for the streaming of live content as well. Customers would be able to watch sporting events at work or cooking shows on the bus ride home without recording anything or waiting for it to become available on demand. The company is working on a direct delivery infrastructure that would ensure consistent speed results for all customers regardless of Internet connection speed. Hulu and Netflix rely on the broadband delivery method, which causes choppy or low quality playback on connections with bottle necking problems.
If the program fairs well, it may even slowly replace set top boxes. These devices are expensive to produce because they only provide cable contact, not any other services. Allowing customers to buy their own streaming devices with multiple uses would save the company money and save the customer from having another piece of technology cluttering up their living room. With full expansion the Xcalibur program could be used on any laptop, computer, game consoles or other device designed to output to a television screen.
Expanding their television offerings over the Xfinity internet packages also changes how customers interact with the system. Finding content and playing it through the current video on demand service is relatively easy on a television connected to a set top box. Doing the same on the mobile app is a lot harder, and the two systems are very different. Parts of Comcast’s plans for Xcalibur include building one consistent, easy to use program that works on all devices in the same way. Uniting all of the content and programming offered by Comcast in one program, the Xcalibur system would make it easy to find exactly what you want with just a few clicks. The program will begin to roll out to customers in the first few months of 2012.
This is a guest article by Ruben Corbo, a writer for the website Broadband Expert where you can find the nearest Comcast cable provider in your area as well as the best xfinity internet packages.