Comcast Disputes Media Report It Favors Roku Over Proprietary Streaming App

Comcast Feb. 4 issued a statement disputing an online media report that it plans to scrap development of a proprietary streaming app in favor of using Roku technology.

A report in BestAppleTV.com claimed Comcast Cable would bypass Apple TV as well as the tvOS app platform in development in favor of a Roku-designed smart box – similar to one manufactured by Roku for Sky-owned Now TV in the United Kingdom.

Comcast Corp. acquired Sky last year for $39 billion.

Media Play News reported Jan. 25 that Now TV, which was one of Roku’s first OEM clients for streaming media devices, including USB stick technology, is the third-largest OTT video service in the U.K. behind market leader Netflix and Amazon Prime Video.

Steve Burke, CEO of NBC Universal, appeared to underscore the move when he said Comcast’s pending AVOD service would incorporate Now TV technology and represented a good alternative for consumers not tethered to pay-TV/SVOD, while posing less of a risk in start-up costs.

“We think this approach has a much better chance to get scale quickly,” Burke said on the fiscal call.

Subscribe HERE for FREE Daily Newsletter!

In a statement, Comcast said the BestAppleTV.com story contained “numerous inaccuracies” and “wrongly conflates” individual business dealings and relationships from Sky, NBC Universal and Comcast Cable.

“To be clear, Comcast Cable is deeply invested in development and innovation of its flagship whole-home platform, Xfinity X1, that is changing the way millions of people watch TV and manage the connected home,” wrote the cabler with 21 million subscribers.

Comcast said Xfinity TV customers can currently access their subscription via the Xfinity Stream app on iOS and Android mobile devices, and on computers and laptops via the Xfinity Stream web portal.

The cabler reiterated that subs can also access their TV subscription via the Xfinity Stream app for Roku devices and Samsung smart TVs (and soon LG and Sony smart TVs as well) or use their Xfinity credentials to authenticate more than 130 networks across more than 20 devices, including Apple TV, Roku, Amazon Fire TV, Google Chromecast, Xbox One and TiVo, among others.

Comcast said it “actively” remains in talks with other device manufacturers to distribute the Xfinity Stream app, “under terms that are mutually agreeable,” through the Xfinity TV Partner Program.

“[The program] continues to enable us to efficiently and effectively expand the range of devices our customers can utilize to access their Xfinity TV subscription,” wrote Comcast.

 

Amy Poehler to Star in Comcast Xfinity Ad Campaign

Amy Poehler will star in a year-long Xfinity advertising campaign starting Feb. 4, Comcast announced.

The campaign featuring the actor, producer and director (“Parks and Recreation,” “Saturday Night Live,’ Inside Out and upcoming “Wine Country”) is called “Simple, Easy, Awesome – starring Amy Poehler” and uses her “unique sense of humor and wit to put a spotlight on the brand’s product benefits, across Xfinity Internet, Xfinity TV and Xfinity Mobile,” according to the Comcast release.

The two launch spots — “Potpourri” and “Make Yourself at Home” — will air across television, digital, mobile and radio.

Subscribe HERE to our FREE daily newsletter!

“Working with Amy has been a dream — her charm, charisma and relatability are a great fit for Xfinity and her improv skills really took our creative to another level,” said Eileen Diskin, SVP of marketing communications at Comcast, in a statement. “We’re proud to have her represent our brand and look forward to building upon our partnership with Amy throughout the year.”

“Simple, Easy, Awesome – starring Amy Poehler” brings to life the idea that you don’t have to be an expert to get the most out of technology, and the commercials put Poehler in real-life locations ranging from a family’s home to an Xfinity retail store, according to the release.

The campaign will include multiple TV spots to roll out in the coming months.

In addition to the creative content, the Comcast partnership with Poehler includes product integration into the company’s Xfinity X1 platform. Customers can say things such as “Amy is Awesome” and “Everything Amy Poehler” into the X1 voice remote and they will be taken to a special page with a curated collection of Poehler’s movies, shows, talk show appearances and more, and also will be able to unlock special voice messages from Poehler.

Xfinity has more than 30 million customer relationships across the country, according to the release, and the X1 platform includes Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video with the voice remote processing more than 700 million commands each month.

Comcast Xfinity Digital Store Seventh Digital Retailer to Join Movies Anywhere

Digital movie collection service Movies Anywhere on Dec. 5  added Comcast’s Xfinity Digital Store as its seventh digital retail partner.

Amazon Prime Video, Google Play, Apple’s iTunes and Walmart’s Vudu were partnered with the service at launch last October. FandangoNow, Fandango’s on-demand video service, came aboard in March, joined in August by Microsoft Movies and TV.

Comcast’s 22 million Xfinity TV subscribers are now able to synchronize their accounts with Movies Anywhere,  combine eligible movie purchases from the Xfinity Digital Store with those from other Movies Anywhere digital retailers, and access them on Xfinity X1, the Xfinity Stream app and other Xfinity TV platforms.

Comcast is the first pay-TV provider to join Movies Anywhere. For a limited time, consumers who sync for the first time with Xfinity or one of the other participating digital retailers will receive a free digital copy of Happy Feet, a 2006 computer-animated musical family film with a domestic box office gross of nearly $200 million. Those who sync for the first time with two digital retailers also receive digital copies of The Martian and The Fate of the Furious.

“Comcast is one of the country’s leading pay-TV providers, with a customer base that, like ours, consists of people who are passionate about the movies they love,” said Karin Gilford, general manager of Movies Anywhere. “We are thrilled to now include Comcast’s Xfinity TV customers among those who can benefit from Movies Anywhere’s ability to bring their favorite movies together in one place that can be accessed across a multitude of devices using the Movies Anywhere app and across Xfinity TV platforms.”

“Xfinity X1 is the only platform that provides customers with seamless, integrated access to all of their entertainment choices within one user interface, whether that content is live, on demand, streamed, recorded, rented or owned,” said Daniel Spinosa, VP of entertainment services at Comcast Cable. “And by joining Movies Anywhere, Xfinity TV customers can now easily link their accounts across participating digital retailers and watch their consolidated digital library on X1, or anywhere in the country via the Xfinity Stream app and portal.”

With the addition of Comcast to the Movies Anywhere lineup, Movies Anywhere collections owned by the cable company’s customers will be accessible for the first time directly on the TV through Xfinity On Demand, and on devices via the Xfinity Stream app and web portal. All Movies Anywheres users are also able to access their collections via the Movies Anywhere app and web portal on an array of additional platforms.

One of the top digital retailers for new releases, the Xfinity Digital Store offers Xfinity TV customers the ability to easily purchase and access thousands of movies, many featuring enhanced extras via X1 and across devices via the Xfinity Stream app and web portal.

Movies Anywhere is backed by five Hollywood studios — Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox Film, Universal Pictures (including Focus Features, DreamWorks and Illumination Entertainment), The Walt Disney Studios (including Disney, Pixar, Marvel Studios and Lucasfilm) and Warner Bros. Paramount Pictures and Lionsgate are not part of the service, which also does not feature television programming.

In October, Movies Anywhere celebrated its one-year anniversary, announcing that since launch fans have streamed more than 35 million movies on more than 100 different devices. The service turned 1 with 6 million registered users, 150 million movies collected and more than 1 billion minutes viewed.

Movies Anywhere in February 2018 won Media Play News‘ inaugural “Fast Forward” award, honoring people, technologies, organizations, products or services that move the home entertainment industry forward. The awards are an outgrowth of the Home Entertainment Visionary Awards, which were launched in 2002 by the now-defunct Home Media Magazine. Comcast’s Brian Roberts was the 2017 honoree.

Movies Anywhere also was nominated for “Fan Favorite App” in the Google Play Best of 2018 Awards.

Consumer spending on digital purchases of movies, TV shows and other filmed content rose 18% in the third quarter of this year compared with the same quarter in 2017, a significant uptick from the single-digit gains posted in prior years, according to DEG: The Digital Entertainment Group.

Turner Streamed Woods, Mickelson Golf PPV Match for Free; Issuing Refunds

Golf’s much-hyped first-ever ($19.99) pay-per-view contest, featuring Tiger Woods taking on Phil Mickelson in “The Match” on Black Friday in Las Vegas, saw the $9 million winner-take-all contest streamed for free online following technical issues.

A glitch with the purchasing software forced Turner executives at the last minute to stream the 22-hole match for free on The Bleacher Report Live – the online sports website’s nascent over-the-top video platform.

“We experienced a technical issue on Bleacher Report Live that impacted user access to ‘The Match,’” spokesperson Nate Smeltz told the site – which is owned by WarnerMedia. “We took a number of steps to resolve the matter with our main priority being to deliver the content to those who purchased the event.”

Indeed, the snafu didn’t affect consumers who purchased the match through their pay-TV operator – or The Bleacher Report – from watching Mickelson sink a four-foot birdie putt to defeat Woods.

Comcast Cable, in a statement, said it would refund Xfinity TV subscribers who paid to watch the event.

“We hope Turner and Bleacher Report will do the same given that the event was made available by them for free on [the latter’s] website,” said Comcast.

Interestingly, Turner on Nov. 24 said it would offer refunds to anyone who paid to stream the match on Bleacher Report. Whether that applies to pay-TV users who paid to stream the event through their operator’s OTT platform remains to be seen.

 

MHz Choice SVOD Launches on Comcast Xfinity X1

MHz Networks’ subscription video on demand service MHz Choice is now available over the Internet on Comcast’s Xfinity X1, marking the first time MHz Choice’s entire catalog of premium on-demand international TV content is available through a pay-TV provider in the United States, MHz announced.

Xfinity X1 customers can subscribe to and access the service and its full library by saying “MHz Choice” into their X1 voice remote or by finding it within the networks section of Xfinity on Demand. The service can be added to X1 customers’ service for $7.99 per month.

“It’s great to be a part of the Comcast Xfinity X1 lineup and to significantly expand upon the existing relationship between our companies,” said MHz Networks president and CEO Frederick Thomas in a statement. “We could not be more pleased to introduce MHz Choice’s unmatched catalog of engaging and entertaining television to even more viewers.”

MHz Choice programming is presented in its language of origin with English subtitles and includes series “Detective Montalbano” (Italy), “Wallander” (Sweden) and “A French Village” (France). New series and new seasons of returning series including “Agatha Christie’s Criminal Games” (France), “Beck” (Sweden), “Acquitted” (Norway), “Those Who Kill” (Denmark) and “Lola Upside Down” (Finland) will launch on MHz Choice in the coming months.

Comcast and ESPN Announce Launch of Sports Networks on Xfinity X1

Comcast and ESPN Sept. 5 announced the launch of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + on Xfinity X1, giving sports fans the ability to stream over the Internet, directly on their television, coverage of college football with more than 150 live games, and more than 5,000 live events annually, including international soccer, Grand Slam tennis matches, college basketball and other collegiate athletics.

All content from across the three networks will be searchable with Comcast’s X1 voice remote and integrated into the same screens and menus as the other sports programming that comes with a customer’s Xfinity TV subscription, according to the announcement.

“Simplicity continues to be essential in today’s dynamic media landscape,” said Sean Breen, SVP, affiliate sales, Disney and ESPN Media Networks, in a statement. “We’re fortunate to have relationships with Comcast to seamlessly serve customers and sports fans on a platform that delivers the best of both traditional and digital video viewing experiences, and the addition of ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are perfect examples of that.”

“From football and soccer to volleyball and field hockey, this launch gives college sports fans incredible access to live events from schools including Florida State, Virginia Tech, Pittsburgh in the ACC, Alabama, Georgia and Texas A&M in the SEC, and dozens more from across the entire country on ESPN3,” said Vito Forlenza, executive director, TV Everywhere content and product strategy, Comcast Cable, in a statement. “ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + add a new dynamic to the already deep catalog of sports programming that’s currently available on X1. Combined with universal voice control and the X1 sports app, we are providing customers with the richest, most immersive sports viewing experience in the country.”

With the three new networks customers can:

  • find live coverage from ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + intermixed alongside other live sporting events showcased within X1’s sports destination;
  • get access to the Xfinity Sky Cam’s live game feeds providing exclusive angles and commentary;
  • by saying “ESPN3,” “ACC Network Extra” or “SEC Network +” into the X1 voice remote discover everything available to watch live from the networks;
  • by asking for a specific team such as “Clemson Football” quickly access a team summary, including its current record and conference standing, and see a list of upcoming games airing across any network;
  • while watching the networks’ live online coverage on X1, follow along with real-time updates and data via the platform’s sports companion app for more than a dozen conferences such as the Atlantic Coast Conference, Southeastern Conference, American Athletic Conference, Mid-American Conference and Conference USA; and
  • by saying, for example, “University of Connecticut Huskies Basketball Score,” get real-time scoring updates of the current game and the ability to tune-in live if it’s available to stream;

ESPN3, ACC Network Extra and SEC Network + are available on all eligible X1 set top boxes with Xfinity TV and Internet service.

Comcast Expands Xfinity TV International Content

Comcast has expanded the number of international channels available to Xfinity TV customers by including 42 networks, now available nationally on Xfinity X1 and through the Xfinity Stream TV app and portal on mobile devices, computers, and Roku devices in the home.

From Bollywood movies and Chinese news, to Russian cinema and Brazilian telenovelas, X1 customers can now find foreign-language content from as STAR India PLUS, Zee TV, TV Asia, Globo, Record TV, TV5Monde, TV JAPAN and Willow sports content.

Coupled with the recent addition of Sling International on X1, the international experience on X1 now includes more than 415 networks in more than 20 languages, according to the company.

“The content is organized and curated in a way that makes search and discovery by geography or language simple and easy,” according to a Comcast press release.

X1 customers can just say “International” to go directly to the International destination on Xfinity on Demand, the press release stated. Additionally, customers can use their voice to discover programming relevant to a specific region of the world, for instance saying “Asian entertainment,” “South Asian entertainment,” “European entertainment” or “Brazilian entertainment.” X1 customers generated more than 1.5 billion voice commands in the first quarter of 2018 alone, according to Comcast.

“Xfinity X1 is now the go-to platform for the best international programming and viewing experience,” said Rebecca Simpson, executive director, international strategy for Comcast Cable. “With the demand for multicultural content increasing, we are thrilled to complement our existing array of international programming by adding more channels all thoughtfully curated into an easy way to navigate, discover and enjoy.”