Disney, Comcast Launch Authenticated Online Channels, Apps15 Jun, 2012 By: Erik Gruenwedel
Analyst says Xfinity TV platforms offer wider selection of kids programming than Netflix, but not as many episodes
As expected, Comcast and Disney/ABC Television Group have launched three new platforms that give authenticated Xfinity TV subscribers online access to the Disney Channel, Disney XD and Disney Junior via apps for the iPhone, iPad and iPod Touch.
Dubbed Watch Disney Channel, Watch Disney XD and Watch Disney Junior, the platforms are the first-ever to provide subscribers — notably kids — access to live, linear network streams as well as an extensive offering of repurposed “on demand” episodes.
Disney CEO Bob Iger first announced the branded channels during an investor event last month.
The multiplatform apps represent another hat in the increasingly crowded ring of media companies (Disney, Nickelodeon) and distributors (Comcast, Netflix, Amazon Prime) attempting to wrest control of the children's video entertainment market in and out of the home.
The free Watch apps include a simple user interface that brings the current online viewing experience to the high-resolution, multitouch displays of iOS devices. Once a user downloads one of the apps or visits one of the websites, they will receive sign-in instructions to verify their Comcast Xfinity TV credentials.
Xfinity TV offers more than 75,000 TV shows and movies, including a variety of kids and family programming, across Xfinity On Demand, Xfinity.com/tv and Xfinity TV Player apps for iOS and Android, respectively.
In addition, Xfinity TV customers can view a variety of top Disney Channel series, including “Good Luck Charlie,” “Shake It Up,” “Phineas and Ferb,” “TRON: Uprising,” “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse” and “Jake and the Never Land Pirates,” among others.
The launch of the online properies, as well as the recent launch of WatchESPN with Comcast is part of a landmark distribution agreement between Comcast and Disney announced in January.
BTIG Research analyst Richard Greenfield said Disney/Comcast's kid-centric platforms offer parents of young children a compelling alternative to Nickelodeon, which has no separate streaming app, that still pales in comparison to Netflix's revamp kids platform and user-interface.
"While kids, especially younger children using Watch Disney Junior, may be satisfied by a random selection of episodes from different seasons, where you never know what you are going to get until you click on a series, Netflix’s offering of complete seasons still feels more compelling (not to mention accessing non-Disney series and a wide array of kid-friendly movies on Netflix)," Greenfield wrote in a June 15 blog.