Cable Company Moves Streaming TV to Smartphones, Tablets, and Laptops

Comcast launched its new Xfinity Streampix service for subscribers this week, entering the competition for your portable entertainment dollars against Netflix, Hulu Plus and Amazon. The service rolled out initially to Comcast’s 22.3 million subscribers across 39 states on Feb. 23 and could eventually help the cable company expand its customer base and keep increasingly Internet-oriented consumers from cutting the cable entirely.

About Streampix
The Streampix service is designed to complement the Philadelphia-based cable and Internet provider’s ongoing Xfinity TV service, which provides TV subscribers with access to 75,000 current and recent TV episodes on demand as well as recent and new-release movies. Streampix offers full runs of past seasons of some on-going shows, like 30 Rock and Grey’s Anatomy, as well as older programs, like Ugly Betty and Married with Children, children’s programs and older movies.

On Comcast’s official blog, Comcast Voices, Marcien Jenckes, the company’s senior vice president and general manager of video services, said the program is an effort to respond to consumer demand for access to a deeper video library and will add value to customer subscriptions. Through this program, Comcast hopes to get their subscribers to drop other similar services and make them their sole source for video services.

Netflix currently has 40,000 television episodes and movies in its library, Amazon Prime offers about 15,000, while Hulu Plus says it provides access to more than 16,000 television episodes and “hundreds” of movies.

Streampix Portability
Right now, Comcast subscribers can watch Streampix and Xfinity TV on the television, on desktop computers and laptops and via the Xfinity TV App on an iPad, iPhone — 3G or newer — or iPod Touch — second generation or later — over a WiFi or 3G connection.  The app is available for Android platform devices, but at present, only the functions that allow a device to operate as a TV remote control and remote DVR programmer are operational on Android devices.
When announcing the Streampix program on Feb. 21, Comcast said that “in the coming year” the service will be available on the Xbox 360 gaming system as well as fully accessible on Android smartphones and tablets.

While Xfinity TV is available to all Comcast TV subscribers as part of the regular service; Streampix is only free to subscribers to Comcast’s upper-tier cable packages and is a $4.99 a month add-on to other cable packages. The service is only offered to the company’s TV subscribers, Internet-only subscribers and people who aren’t Comcast customers can’t currently subscribe solely to the Streampix service.

Future Possibilities
This may not always be the case, however. According to The Wall Street Journal, the deal Comcast signed with content providers including its own NBCUniversal, as well as Disney-ABC, Sony Pictures, Warner Bros., and Cookie Jar Entertainment, would allow it to sell its service nationwide to anyone. While the company says there are no current plans to offer the service outside its subscriber base, its content rights do leave that option open, according to WSJ.

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