Comcast rolls out Xfinity remote control, player app for iPad; more promised

Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) has launched the Xfinity remote control app for the iPad and iPhone that CEO Brian Xfinity iPad appRoberts demonstrated earlier this year, allowing users to find their favorite shows and change channels from their device. The company said the remote control is just the beginning of a gradual roll out over the next several weeks of features that include giving Xfinity TV customers the ability to watch TV shows and movies on their Apple iPads, in, or away, from home, part of its TV Everywhere initiative.

Comcast today also said an Android app will come out this year and that release will be followed by BlackBerry.

The app was demonstrated Monday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco and will be available in the iTunes store this week.

Comcast said the app also can be used to program DVRs, sort content using a variety of filters, personalize viewing with a "MyTV" feature, create a watch list and access social networking sites.

The player functionality that will allow users to watch episodes and movies on the iPad is scheduled to be rolled out in December.

"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," said Neil Smit, President of Comcast Cable. "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."

Initially, Comcast will offer shows and movies from the top premium networks on the app. In the coming weeks and months, the app will continue to expand its content and functionality through a series of regular development updates. It will include thousands of additional entertainment choices, added remote control features, and enhanced search across platforms.

Early reviews on the iTunes App Store have ranged from "could be better" to "Very nice app," with some reviewers agreeing that when content becomes available on the iPad, the app will be a hit.

Comcast's subscriber numbers have been sliding in recent months, with the MSO, the nation's largest, reporting it lost some 275,000 video subscribers in the third quarter. The company has said subscriber losses were due to a poor economy in the U.S., and attributed some losses to poaching by other services, like AT&T's U-verse and Verizon's FiOS TV; it has steadfastly denied that losses were in any way connected to consumer cord cutting and its tie to over-the-top delivery. Yet Xfinity is designed to appeal to those consumers most likely to cut the cord, and offers a complete menu of OTT fare to current Comcast subscribers.

The Xfinity initiative itself has had a mixed track record with consumers to date, rolling out initially to criticism of thin content offerings and difficulty of use.

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