updated 01:10 pm EST, Thu March 3, 2011
Comcast Xfinity service to bring Netflix-like UI
CEO of Comcast Brian Roberts in a discussion of future plans made clear intentions that the Xfinity online streaming service would compete directly against other services. He considered Netflix a target and planned to improve the user interface to exceed it, among other changes. The company's future cable boxes will all have Wi-Fi built in as well, Roberts said.
The idea will be to make Comcast have plenty of on-demand offerings that are accessible to users from anywhere in their house. The CEO mentioned its On Demand service as an example of the expected success of the planned service, citing 18 million On Demand views from subscribers to date.
Roberts said all Comcast lacked was a “great navigation device.” The iPad combined with better software is Comcast’s tool of choice. In the long run, Roberts said that Comcast may pursue bundling deals with smart TVs and devices like the Xbox 360. The cable box may be a little more hip, but Roberts could go around it if needed.
Roberts argued that content was a potential edge. Comcast spends $7.5 billion every year getting content, he said, and can procure rights for both live and library streaming. Netflix has spent much of its time in the past two years landing deals for streaming but has sometimes had to go through in-between companies like Starz as many of the studios are wary of Netflix hurting their DVD sales and TV viewing.