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Comcast to Stream More than 6,000 Hours from Rio Olympics

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Comcast plans to stream more than 6,000 hours of content from the Rio 2016 Olympics, giving Olympic viewers more choice than ever to watch events that aren't being shown on a cable channel, according to Brian Roberts, Comcast's chairman & CEO during a keynote earlier this week at INTX (Internet and Broadcasters Expo) in Boston.

"Let's say I want to watch something that isn't on a cable channel," said Roberts. "For the first time we are seamlessly streaming all the other live feeds into the one experience that you just click. If you look at Rio, here's what we are going to offer: 11 networks, 40 simultaneous streams, more than 6,000 hours. Every single event will be streamed live, every medal, every event. "If you had 24 hours a day to watch, seven days a week, it would take you 250 days to watch all this content."

Viewers will be able to watch live events as well as VOD on the Xfinity Sports app. 1 in 3 Comcast customers use the app regularly, said Roberts.

When asked if people are going to be watching less live, Roberts responded, "Our experience has been if you put more at the top of the funnel, what comes out is people will watch more in primetime than if you had a single feed."

The company has a two-tiered approach to attract as many eyeballs as possible to their coverage, using both OTT and cable via the latest version of company's X1 set-top box. Roberts demonstrated the X1's newest features, including a voice-activated remote; interactive content navigation to search by sport, athlete, or country; the ability to create a list of favorites; plus other related contextual text and video content in both English and Spanish.

Comcast is aiming to have close to 50% of their customers using the X1 in time for the Olympics. It introduced the voice remote almost a year ago and the company says it is now seeing 180 million voice commands every month.

"Because it's cloud based, we can update it easily and make it special purpose," said Roberts. "That's what we are doing for the Olympics. So it's a marriage of the Comcast Technology Group trying to break new ground with the incredible story telling of NBC to give you the ultimate Olympics viewing experience and, I believe, a real glimpse into the future of television."

The idea of an internet interface being applied to the TV experience is nothing new. Two-way technology may this giant conglomerate into a future that viewers already expect.

"We are trying to touch every segment with a stream product where you can do this without a box all together," continued Roberts. "We are seeing a slow decline in the total video marketplace. If the product gets better, we can slow that down."

Roberts talked about the company's technology roadmap, which is attempting to appeal to a wide spectrum of cable subscribers, cord shavers, and cord nevers. "I'm optimistic," Roberts said. "Change is upon us and we can't sit still, and we are trying not to."

Can the giant cable company become nimble? The Olympic streaming will be a real test of the company to see how well they stream those 6,000 hours of content.

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