Comcast Readies iPad Video Streaming

Comcast is close to introducing an app that will let Xfinity TV customers stream movies and TV shows to the iPad. The app, called Play Now, will be available in the "coming weeks," Comcast president Neil Smit said today at a UBS AG conference in New York City. Smit, who joined Comcast from Charter Communications Inc. in March, said Play Now will first work with premium networks such as HBO, Starz, and Showtime. The MSO is working out the rights with other networks. Will Comcast eventually make all its video content available this way? "That's our plan," he said, without providing any time line. It seems likely that Play Now will draw from the 150,000 video items on the TV Online portal, which Comcast launched just a few months ago. By comparison, Comcast's set-top-based VoD service offers about 25,000 titles. These moves are all viewed as a defense against cord cutting, although Smit said Comcast has seen no real evidence of such a trend. Most video subscriber losses have been due to people rolling off of promotional rates and churning to competitors, with a "small trace" leaving to go with free over-the-air TV, he said.

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