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Line Between Apps and Websites Blurred, Says Comcast

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Will the future of streaming entertainment rely on apps or HTML5 websites? Or is there much of a distinction between the two?

After he delivered the second day keynote for the recent Streaming Media West conference in Los Angeles, Matt Strauss, senior vice president and general manager for Comcast Interactive Media, sat down for a red carpet interview to discuss the online and mobile properties that make up Comcast Xfinity. His team relaunched the Xfinity site shortly before the conference.

"We think that we're at this moment where the lines are getting blurred between what is an app and what is a website, and we wanted to take all the learnings we got from the app and apply them to the web, which is why we relaunched our website a few weeks ago in HTML5," said Strauss.

The Xfinity app allows Comcast subscribers to control their TVs from their mobile devices, and the revamped website now offers the same functionality. Subscribers can also stream content from a video library with over 1,200 titles.

The site is flexible enough to offer a different interface for tablet users, so that they get more touch-friendly controls. The idea was to create a platform that offers powerful featires and can adapt to different platforms. Rather than deciding between HTML5 sites and apps, Comcast Interactive Media is going with both.

"I think there's an elegance of having the ability to create something once and have it render itself on multiple devices," says Strauss. "I don't think that's where we are in the industry at the moment, my personal opinion, so you're going to see us move in both directions, but we're going to be prepared for either way."

The revamped website also offers new ad targeting options that let Comcast command a premium CPM. Its previous on-demand tools lacked dynamic ad insertion and measurement capabilities. The new dynamic ad platform was years in the making. Comcast has also made progress getting Nielsen to measure online views just as it does DVR content.

"I feel like we're finally at a place where we're seeing some meaningful progress, and then when you marry things like addressability and targeting, then I think we're opening up a whole new paradigm of how we can deliver advertising," said Strauss.

In the interview, Strauss addressed the new challengers to pay TV, such as set-top boxes and streaming services, which aim to chip away viewers from cable. Comcast, he said, is used to competition, whether from satellite companies, telcos, and now online services.

"Competition is not new to us. We're used to this kind of competition, whether it's a new entrant like a Boxee or somebody that we don't know. We're assuming that will happen in some form," said Strauss.

To view the entire interview, scroll down.

These Streaming Media Red Carpet Interviews are sponsored by Front Porch Digital.

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