Comcast Keynote Looks to the Future of Connected TV
Viewers will gain greater connected viewing and social viewing options, plus ways to manage infinite choices.
"I can't predict the future," said Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager of Comcast Interactive Media, at the start of the second day keynote for the Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles. Yet, for the next hour, he gave attendees an exciting look at what Comcast is doing now for connected viewing and what's to come.
"I feel like we all have glimpses of it by looking around our home," Strauss said. For his four sons, watching TV on a tablet or smartphone is no different than on an actual television, which prompted Strauss to realize that TV is simply video and a display merely a piece of glass. Those pieces of glass are now everywhere, including taxicabs and gas station pumps.
The future of television means untethering the TV from the living room, he said, but viewing on multiple devices is only the beginning. It will be up to developers to improve that experience with better social viewing and easy, personalized experiences. Viewers in the future will have infinite choice over what they can watch. That's overwhelming, so TV providers will need to help them manage those choices.
In the next 6 to 12 months, viewers will see live TV added to their connected viewing experience, so that streaming viewing will be more like that on a standard television. DVR features will also improve, so that viewers will be able to access and play stored programs and movies from anywhere.
Social viewing tools will improve and play a greater role in people's viewing, Strauss said. While not everyone will gravitate to social features, viewers will get better recommendations based on their friends' viewing habits, and will be able to watch on-demand content as a group even when in different locations.
The coming Olympics presents an exciting area for social viewing, Strauss said. Tablet owners will be able to sync the content on their TVs with that on their tablets to get timely contextual information.
On the hot topic of cord cutting, Strauss said that the trend wasn't happening in a material way, but that cord shaving -- reducing pay TV extras -- was more of a factor. TV providers need to provide more value to entice customers, he said.
Strauss displayed the Comcast Xfinity iPad app, which can be used to control TV functions remotely, as well as the recently launched Xfinity website. The site builds the same remote functions into a browser. Subscribers can use it for catch-up TV access. Search results give users the option to watch a show on-demand or record it.
During the audience question session, one attendee asked about a la carte options, saying that he wasn't interested in regular service but would still like to see the Olympics. Strauss answered that it isn't in programmers' best interests to break up their offerings, but that we'll see more experimentation in the future. As for a possible streaming-only package or other a la carte offerings, he said that most customers prefer everything in one easy grouping -- and they're willing to pay for it.
Scroll down to view the entire session:
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