Comcast launches nationwide on-demand Web TV

Comcast began rolling out XFINITY TV today to between 8 and 10 million Comcast subscribers across the U.S. Formerly called On Demand Online, Comcast's XFINITY allows verified customers to watch cable TV content on their computers and has been going through extended trials with 5,000 customers for the past couple of months. Comcast's digital cable and Internet subs will get the service free, for now.

XFINITY -- Comcast's TV Eveywhere entry -- will remain in beta, reports the New York Times, as Comcast gathers feedback from users. The service includes a bevy of archived episodes from partners HBO, A&E, AMC, CBS, Discovery, History, TLC and TNT, including all episodes from "The Sopranos" and "Curb You Enthusiasm." Select movies also are available for viewing, Comcast said.

Comcast's rollout follows a similar deployment by Rogers Communications, a Canadian cable company that so far has received mixed reviews about the service. Comcast's subsidiary, thePlatform is providing the infrastructure for the service.

Jan Steenkamp, VP of Americas for Irdeto, said he believed the roll out was too hasty, and risked being a disappointment to customers and the industry.

“The industry has sprinted to quickly launch TV Everywhere, with companies scrambling to deliver a competitive offering as quickly as possible," he said. "The problem is that most in the industry are viewing the initiative from a short-term perspective, when TV Everywhere should actually be considered a marathon. What we’re seeing now is merely the first iteration of a complete overhaul in how content owners and operators approach the long-term publishing, delivery, monetization and personalization of high-value content.

”Companies like thePlatform... haven’t created the comprehensive, immersive environments users will demand and they don’t provide adequate packages and services to accompany their offerings.  If rushed, many operators could find their customers disappointed and underwhelmed by TV Everywhere.  This would truly jeopardize the effectiveness of the long-term objectives of the initiative.”

Online video is booming with Nielson reporting that more than 138 million people watched video last month, an increase of more than 11 percent from the same period a year ago.

With oferings like XFINITY, cable companies and network programmers are looking to capture some of the revenue from content being viewed free on the Internet.

For more:
- see this The New York Times article

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