Cord cutters are threatening the bottom line at cable companies, but cable isn’t going to go gently into that good night. Comcast today unveiled its new Xfinity TV app for the iPad, a clear attempt to get some love from the new mobile video-watching crowd.
The new Xfinity app will allow Comcast subscribers to stream TV shows and movies to the iPad, as well as act as a TV guide, remote and DVR programmer for their at-home cable setup. The app launched today, though streaming content won’t arrive until early December, at which time users will have access to a select portion of Comcast’s offerings. That content will be premium cable stuff Comcast includes in its TV Everywhere (now called Fancast Infinity) offerings, including shows from HBO, Cinemax and Showtime.
Comcast also plans to release apps for the iPhone and iPod touch, as well as BlackBerry and Android devices, though the company hasn’t divulged any other details. Apps are a good move for the U.S. cable giant, allowing it to compete with companies like Netflix, which also provides direct streaming to mobile devices. But is it enough, and is it in time to truly make a difference?
Mobile users want all the content, all the time. Comcast’s Xfinity already falls quite short of that; some content coming soon is too little. Users don’t want to see a few shows and movies available, even if those shows come from premium networks, especially when they’re paying for the whole hog with a cable subscription.
As for timing, this is something cable companies should have offered as soon as the technology was available. Device makers recognized quickly enough that users wanted the ability to carry video with them in their pockets as soon as the technology allowed it. Why did the biggest content providers take such a long time to admit the same? Whatever the reason, making minor concessions like providing extremely limited content libraries to paying customers with what seem like reluctant gradual rollout timelines isn’t going to win people back now.
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