Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

Summary: Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was decidedly upbeat about tablets such as Apple's iPad and how it can drive demand for the cable giant's Xfinity Web video efforts.

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Comcast CEO Brian Roberts was decidedly upbeat about tablets such as Apple's iPad and how it can drive demand for the cable giant's Xfinity Web video efforts.

Speaking on Comcast's third quarter earnings conference call Wednesday, Roberts and Comcast executives made a bevy of key comments about how new technologies were changing TV consumption. Comcast reported third quarter earnings of $861 million, or 31 cents a share, on revenue of $5.91 billion, up 7 percent from a year ago. At one point, Roberts said:

We are very excited about the iPad. It gives us a chance to start from scratch with a user interface that is using Web technology, not the cable box technology.

Roberts also added:

This week we relaunched Xfinity TV, our authenticated on-demand online service, with a new and I think great marketing campaign. Xfinity TV gives customers online access to 150,000 entertainment choices including movies, TV shows, premium and HD content with a compelling search and discovery platform. All of our digital video customers will receive a customer ID to access Xfinity TV for no extra cost. It's a tremendous value-added service. And before the end of this year we will be launching the Xfinity TV remote app which will work on all the iPhones and iPads and eventually, right after they come out, on the Android-based tablets. This is an entirely new form factor and device for consumers, these tablets, which I think makes the search and discovery and the enjoyment of television that much greater because we have all been looking for how to navigate these 150,000 choices or whatever the consumer actually has. And this, with the touch of a finger, allows you to change channels as well as to search and discovery. I think you will like it when you get one. So as you can see, we have an exciting roadmap for new product introductions and we are delivering more and faster innovation to our customers. All of these enhancements and new features really are starting to bring to life our Xfinity brand and you are going to continue to see and hear many new products from Comcast in the months and years ahead.

Does that mean the set-top box is toast? Comcast executives seemed to be preparing that day, but they also noted that the set-top box will stick around for the foreseeable future.

Comcast operating chief Stephen Burke said:

I think there will be set-top boxes for a long time. But the world is beginning to see technologies that can, in some cases, do away with a set-top box for some of your services. We have digital adapters for many televisions. The world is changing and evolving very rapidly and we want to serve all spaces. That said, the most exciting products we are working on that allow you to have tremendous functionality right on the TV do have set-top boxes involved with them. Some customers will not want all that and will want a different model and so we are working on all across the landscape. Also as more and more moves into the Cloud and into different architecture we have to handle that as well. So it's an interesting time technically and [cable labs] is looking at a lot of these different things.

Bottom line: Comcast sees its video being hosted in the cloud and available on any device, notably tablets. Neil Smit, president of Comcast Cable Communications, noted that for Xfinity TV and TV Everywhere "we are at the beginning, not anywhere near the end."

Topics: Laptops, Hardware, iPad, Mobility, Networking, Tablets, Telcos

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15 comments
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  • Blah blah blah

    Try actually making the service competitive by adding HD Channels before adding more BS. Customer service and high quality (visual, not content) programming is what we want. Constant "dropouts", pixilation, sound issues, lack of HD is the real problem. Fix that first before poking fingers in other areas.
    JT82
  • Comcast

    Sucks!
    james347
  • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

    Great, now I can get pixilation on my iPad/Taplet now too?
    james347
  • Bandwidth caps

    And if I start consuming all this video on my PC, Mac, or iPhone, how much will Comcast charge me once I surpass my 250GB usage cap?
    use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

      @macadam The simple solution is to upgrade to Comcast Business Class. The base package is the same price as the residential full price offering BUT offers NO bandwith throttling and caps. Completely unfettered internet access.
      JT82
      • Really? Is it really the same?

        @JT82
        Thanks for the tip. I'll have to call Comcast and find out if it also includes my phone and TV.
        use_what_works_4_U
      • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

        @JT82 We HAVE Business Class and it is really good --- except that we can't get On Demand with our Business Class Cable TV account. Fast? sure, but unfortunately limited.
        aldux
  • Sure... but

    I would love this if it were true, but I don't believe him. Remember that agreement they signed with Sony on how tru2way was going to roll out everywhere by what, the end of LAST year. Didn't happen.

    I waited what, a year and a half for them to roll out that usage meter on their web site so I could see what my data usage was?

    And that Tivo UI on Motorola DVRs is where exactly? Boston and two surrounding towns now?

    Its easy for him to SAY they'll make this available by the end of this year, but I don't believe him.

    It requires EBIF support in the STBs right? And there are a lot of different STBs (Cisco, Motorola, Pace, etc) and different head-end types and configurations. And each system is separate. At best they'll get it rolled out in ONE city by the end of the year. And by the end of next year I still won't be able to use it.

    I hope he's right. But I think he's living in fantasy land. The web is going to drink his milkshake.
    gwconnery@...
  • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

    On the item on set top boxes. The rentals on those boxes are a major profit source for the cable cos. They will never willingly give them up. As the expressions goes you can have my settop box when you can pry it from my cold dead fingers.
    csumbler
  • "Hey mom, what's TV?"

    "Oh you know, hunny, it's that big honkin' box yer Dad and me used ta watch the internet on, only we could only watch what they wanted us to and only when they wanted us to, and you know, it's really nothing like the internet, but you get the idea."
    jeverettk
    • Nice

      @jeverettk
      :)
      use_what_works_4_U
    • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

      @jeverettk - And, can you believe this, there was no monthly charge, bandwidth cap, or throttling.

      Outside of the capital investment for the TV and antenna, it was FREE. And the FCC licensed stations for "the public good."

      These days, as you know, there is no such thing as "the public good." The only "good" that media content creators and distributors think about is the revenue that can be generated.
      pwatson
      • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

        @pwatson - no monthly charge? which Comcast do you use? :)
        jeverettk
  • RE: Comcast CEO: iPad, tablets give us ability to 'start from scratch' on TV interface

    I've pretty much make the move to 100% internet. Between $9 a month for a NetFlix account, an Internet connection and a digital HD antenna, I can watch pretty much whatever I want for about half of what the cable company was charging.... on all my TVs and all my computers (except for over-the-air broadcasts on the computers).

    Like I'm ever home to watch TV anyway...
    Marc Jellinek
  • DISH Network has a similar app called DISH Remote Access.

    This app allows users to access thousands of TV shows and movies through DISHOnline.com as well as the ability to view and manage their DVR recordings. On top of all this, users are able to watch live TV from anywhere they have internet access via any smart-phone, tablet, or laptop/desktop computer. As an employee of DISH, I know all about it, so if you have any questions, feel free to ask or check out www.dish.com/TVeverywhere.
    techieblgrl