Comcast looks to the ‘Cloud’ for better TV experience
May 26, 2011
By Colin Mann
A senior Comcast executive has revealed that the cable TV giant is looking to enhance viewers’ personalised TV experience by leveraging its IP technology and ‘cloud’ servers in its network.
Writing in a company blog, Sam Schwartz, President, Comcast Converged Products, notes that at any given time, Comcast video customers have access to an almost infinite number of viewing choices — from broadcast network programming to hundreds of cable networks, dozens of premium channels, more than 25,000 On Demand choices, recordings on their DVRs and a growing library of online video at XfinityTV.com.
“While all of this choice has revolutionised the way people watch TV, it’s created a fundamental challenge: how do we make it a more personalised experience? It should be easy to discover just the right content, so you can watch what you want, when you want — on your TV, tablet or your computer,” he says.
“We’ve made great progress on providing better tools, first on the web, then on tablets and mobile devices, to address this challenge. XfinityTV.com and our iPad app let you easily search and organise all your entertainment choices in a rich and fun user experience,” he advises.
“Now we want to bring that personalised experience to the television. To make this happen, we’ve been working on a project we call Xcalibur, where the goal is to take everything we’ve learned from the web and tablets and bring it right back to your TV screen,” he says.
“By leveraging IP technology and our own ‘cloud’ servers in our network, we’re going to bring you a user experience on television that makes it easier to search and select from tens of thousands of choices and makes the television screen personal, useful and fun. With Xcalibur, your TV will reflect your interests, favourite TV series, sports teams, movies and music,” he explains.
He points out that because the platform is based on many of the same standards used on the Internet (but travels over Comcast’s broadband cable network, not the Internet), it will be able to bring apps, social media and other popular features to the market faster.
“And we’re just getting warmed up,” he declares. “As a network-based entertainment experience, the rich TV navigation and services will eventually carry over to many other TV devices including connected TVs and game consoles. That means your preferences, subscriptions, saved programmes, parental controls and other personalised selections are always with you, wherever you watch. In January, we demonstrated the first of these partnerships with our announcement of Xfinity on Samsung Connected TV’s.”
Comcast is beginning to introduce the first product on the Xcalibur platform, starting in Augusta, Georgia with a market trial of Xfinity Spectrum. New customers in Augusta who sign up for our HD DVR service are now getting new, next-generation set-top boxes with what Schwartz describes as “great new features,” such as tens of thousands of video choices available with the Xfinity TV service; an “incredibly-fast” search engine that enables customers to find anything in the expanded catalogue in just seconds; a more personalised TV experience called MyTV where a subscriber can see and access all recordings, favourites and recommendations in one place; interactive apps that are easy to access and enhanced for TV, and finally, easy access to other Comcast services such as caller ID on the TV.
“And this is just the beginning,” he promises. “Xcalibur is a platform for continuous innovation, so we’ll keep you updated about how we’re using it to revolutionise what it means to watch TV.”