Comcast has just come up with a new app that will change the way Samsung Smart TVs and Roku devices are able to stream its content. Effectively turning the latter into quasi cable boxes, the app, which will be available this year, can bring you live TV and on-demand video, a lot like X1 cable boxes are doing now. Subscribers can also use the app to record shows on their DVRs.
Current customers of the service using the new app, can turn in their old cable boxes and save the $10/month they have been paying to rent the equipment all this time. Industry affairs chief Mark Hess said in a statement that customers “should be able to access their Xfinity TV cable service wherever they want, whenever they want, on whatever device they want.”
Comcast is looking to subsequently expand the Xfinity TV Partner Program past Samsung and Roku. The latest TV app is a lot similar to those currently available on smartphones and tablets, and according to Comcast, those have been downloaded 23 million times. The new app however, is a lot closer to emulating the experience you get from the cable box.
Comcast isn’t the only company offering substitute apps in place of equipment – Time Warner Cable and other companies too are providing similar apps for smart TVs and mobile and streaming devices. Comcast has also offered the Xfinity service over Xbox, but that was on for only about year before they scrapped it.
With cable expanding rapidly, so is the availability of its services in mobile gadgets and smart TVs. Those are the two devices consumers mainly turn to for data consumption these days, which is why improvements there can be effective in keeping them from cutting the cord.
The FCC has criticized Comcast’s app plan, labeling it as another way to offer the same old Xfinity service on a different device. “It appears to offer only a proprietary, Comcast-controlled user interface and seems to allow only Comcast content on different devices,” a spokesperson stated. On the other hand, the National Cable & Telecommunications Association has been vocally appreciative of the cable provider for its “innovative marketplace solutions.”
Mark Hess commented in a statement that app-based models being as successful as they are, the technical mandate suggestively raised by the FCC is “unnecessary”. Moreover, it would “create substantial costs” and “take years to develop.”