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Comcast Tests IPTV Service

27 May, 2011 By: Erik Gruenwedel

Comcast Corp. has quietly begun testing an Internet-based television platform designed to personalize TV viewing, including streaming movies and episodic programming similar to Netflix, Hulu and Apple TV.

Dubbed “Xcalibur,” the platform is currently being tested on upgraded set-top boxes in Augusta, Ga., and intended to deliver subscriber-designated content stored on the Philadelphia-based cable operator’s cloud-based servers and streamed via Comcast’s own IP network.

“The goal is to take everything we’ve learned from the Web and tablets and bring it right back to your TV screen,” wrote Sam Schwartz, president, Comcast Converged Products, in May 25 blog post.

Comcast, which owns a majority stake in NBC Universal, already allows monthly subscribers to repurpose programming on portable devices through XfinityTV.com and its iPad app. Xcalibur goes the next step by allowing users to micromanage their favorite content (movies, TV shows and music), and discuss it via social media, among other options.

The platform includes a search engine that allows users to locate live TV programs, on demand or recorded. Interactive apps allow users to generate weather and traffic updates, and access Pandora radio and Facebook, among other options.

Comcast will also soon begin testing Xcalibur at MIT with the goal to make live TV over the Internet a reality. While the platform (and XfinityTV) aim to outdistance Netflix and Hulu in content access and diversity, it still requires a monthly cable subscription significantly more expensive than the aforementioned streaming services.

“We want to deliver video everywhere people want to watch it,” Schwartz told The Wall Street Journal. “We have to do a better job getting people to realize what they are paying us for.”


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