NCTA Cable Show: Comcast Unveils X2 Cloud-Based Platform

During the NCTA Cable Show this week in Washington D.C., Comcast CEO Brian Roberts unveiled the X2 cloud-based entertainment platform that will enable Xfinity TV subscribers to access live and on-demand television programming, online video, personalized recommendations and apps across platforms including computers, smartphones, tablets and TVs. The company has also upgraded its current X1 platform with a new “Send to TV” feature that allows users to send Web content to their set-top box.

“In hopes of discouraging customers from wandering over to a growing number of other streaming options, Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cox Communications are updating their set-top boxes and viewing guides that promise more personalized menus, recommendations and extensive content information,” reports USA Today.

“The X1 Platform is an incredible example of what’s possible with cloud innovation,” said Roberts. “With the introduction of Web-based content to the platform today, and the promise of a faster and more integrated experience with X2, we’re adding more functionality to each screen in a customer’s home, and transforming our video product into a complete entertainment operating system.”

The new X2 release will begin its initial rollout later this year.

According to the Comcast press release, new features demonstrated at The Cable Show included: new customizable dashboard for TV and mobile devices; “uber-personalization” and enhanced recommendations for movie and TV discovery; new social integration with Zeebox, Rotten Tomatoes, Facebook, Twitter and others; Web content delivery (the “Send to TV” feature) and second screen integration through apps; and integrated multiplatform content with the new user interface.

“This integration also adds the flexibility to begin an On Demand program on one device, such as the TV, and then resume it where they left off on another device, such as a tablet or PC,” explains the release.

“It sounds very similar to what Samsung offers on its SmartTV platform, but the biggest takeaway from Comcast is you don’t have to save your DVR’d stuff to a hard drive,” points out Gizmodo. “You can get it on the cloud.”

Roberts also suggested that the cable industry is successfully adapting to the evolving habits of TV viewers (such as “binge-viewing”) and the arrival of ultra-fast competitors like Google Fiber. He showcased “a 3-gigabit/sec connection capable of gulping down a movie near-instantly,” notes paidContent, and “acknowledged that cross-screen consumption through Comcast’s TV Everywhere is far from integrated.”

The Cable Show, produced by the National Cable and Telecommunications Association, was held June 10-12 at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center. Brian Roberts’ 19-minute Comcast X2 tech demo is available on YouTube.

Related Information:
Comcast NCTA Page (includes press releases, blog posts, slideshows and videos)
Cable Companies Upgrade Viewing Guides in Set-Top Boxes, USA Today, 6/11/13
Comcast CEO Promises More Binge-Viewing, Faster Platforms, paidContent, 6/11/13

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