Comcast testing hybrid cable-web TV delivery

Cable giant Comcast appears to be hedging its bets on Internet television, testing a new hybrid TV Web-cable TV combo in Augusta, Georgia that allows viewers to launch Google TV-like searches for content, delivers some online video and, for all intents, acknowledges that the nation's biggest cable company is feeling pressure from a growing trend toward over-the-top delivery.

A significant portion of the test, sources told The Wall Street Journal, is an improved user interface similar to the one Google TV features. And, the Journal reports, the platform, known as "Spectrum," or "Xcalibur," is dependant upon a set top box that allows limited access to the Web, including social media tie-ins, unified search and DVR functionality. The test doesn't appear to include access to Netflix or other competing over-the-top video on demand.

"We are testing many technological approaches to understand how best to meet consumer interests, and this small trial is one of those experiments," a Comcast spokeswoman said in an emailed statement.

Comcast, like most cable operators in the United States, has seen a string of record-setting subscriber losses in recent quarters. While the cable industry has struggled more than other segments of the pay-TV industry with accelerating cord cutting, it generally has blamed subscriber losses on a struggling economy rather than acknowledging OTT delivery as a significant threat.

For more:
- see the WSJ article

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