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Comcast (s CMCSA) has launched an all-new interface to its XfinityTV.com website, providing users quicker access to content and more tools to connect their online viewing with what they watch on TV and on its video-on-demand service. The updated user interface, which was built in HTML5, puts more emphasis on graphical elements, provides one-click viewing from the front page and allows users to add content to a queue to be watched later.
Taking cues from iPad app development
With the relaunch of its XfinityTV.com website, Comcast is actually using what it has learned from the release of on-demand videos on its iPad (s aapl) app, Matt Strauss, SVP and GM of Comcast Interactive Media, told us in an interview earlier this week. Due to the iPad’s touchscreen controls, it made sense to have a very interactive, visual interface on that app. But a lot of what makes navigating the iPad app a breeze could also be applied to the new website.
Comcast also worked a lot on improving content discovery. The website has more than 27,000 program choices available, which means it needs a robust search and discovery tools to make finding the content you want to watch easy. As a result, it has rolled out recommendations based on content that users have added to the queue to be watched.
Keeping a TV connection
Just as important, Comcast isn’t thinking just about highlighting that content on the XfinityTV portal, but showing users where and when they can access it on their TVs as well. The user queue aggregates linear TV and VOD listings, allowing users to set their DVRs to record shows directly from the website and to force tune their set-top boxes to start playing VOD titles on the big screen when available.
Integrating TV and DVR controls into its web and mobile applications isn’t a new thing for Comcast. The company’s iPad app, for instance, originally launched as a way to browse channel listings and control DVR functions before it added on-demand content from the company’s content partners. Even now, the thing people most use the iPad for isn’t on-demand video viewing, but the tools for navigating and controlling content on their TVs, Strauss said.
Blurring the lines
All this is meant to encourage new user behavior — after all, most people don’t think of using a website to control a TV — and to blur the lines between the different web, mobile and connected TV applications that Comcast is working on bringing to market. As users begin to use all these different devices, there’s the potential to carry over recommendations from the website to the iPad and potentially even to the next generation of set-top boxes that Comcast hopes to introduce.
Ultimately, Comcast hopes to use this interactivity to provide more value to its subscribers, wherever they are and on whichever device they wish to access its content from. Doing so can help set it apart from other operators and online video distributors.