Peter Kafka

Recent Posts by Peter Kafka

Comcast Bringing Live TV to Your iPad (In Your House)

Here’s a logical, and cool, marriage between your iPad and your TV, brokered by Comcast: The cable company says it will let subscribers stream live TV to their tablets later this year.

The catch here is that the capability, which will be offered on Apple’s iPad as well as tablets running Google’s Android, will only work inside subscribers’ homes.

So you still can’t watch a live episode of “Two and a Half Men” on your iPad in the airport, but you will be able to watch it in your kitchen, while your better half watches “Frontline” in the living room. Or whatever.

It’s worth noting that Verizon announced its own version of this feature (with the same limitations), for its FiOS TV subscribers last summer, but has yet to roll it out.

Comcast will be demoing the feature later today at a Citigroup investors conference, but won’t be providing details about timing, or if there will be any programming restrictions on what you can watch on your tablet.

It’s possible there could be some holdouts, but the cable giant ought to be able to offer just about everything, since there’s no issue with carriage rights or ad loads, etc.–tablet watchers will be watching whatever’s already on live TV.

The killer feature, of course, would be the ability to do this on-the-go, but we’re not there yet, and it may take awhile to get there. Mobile rights for video–especially live video–are a whole different ball game.

Meantime, though, Comcast is offering a half-step–as previously promised, it will let traveling iPad users start to watch a selection of on-demand content, via its Xfinity TV app.

Comcast says it will offer some 3,000 TV shows and movies that iPad users can watch on-demand, over any network–AT&T’s 3G, or Time Warner Cable’s broadband, or whatever. Once that feature is up and running, which should be shortly, we’ll be able to compare that catalog to the ones that Netflix and Hulu Plus are offering for $7.99 a month.

And that’s the big picture here: Comcast and the other big cable providers, which continue to insist that cord-cutting isn’t real, want to make sure that it doesn’t become a reality, by offering their subscribers access to as much stuff, in as many places, as they can. It’s going to take years to find out whether that works or not, but best to start experimenting ASAP.


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The problem with the Billionaire Savior phase of the newspaper collapse has always been that billionaires don’t tend to like the kind of authority-questioning journalism that upsets the status quo.

— Ryan Chittum, writing in the Columbia Journalism Review about the promise of Pierre Omidyar’s new media venture with Glenn Greenwald