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Comcast's X1 Video Platform Lands First in Boston

Jeff Baumgartner
LR Cable News Analysis
Jeff Baumgartner

BOSTON -- The Cable Show -- Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) announced Monday that Boston will be the first market to launch X1, the MSO's next-generation hybrid QAM/IP video platform, confirming what Light Reading Cable reported earlier this month. (See Comcast's X1 to Fly First in Boston? )

Comcast will introduce X1, which features the operator's new cloud-based navigation system/interactive program guide, a recommendations engine, and a set of news, weather, streaming radio and music apps, in Boston in the "coming weeks." The operator adds that it will roll X1 to more "major" U.S. markets later this year.

The service, targeted initially only to customers who take Comcast's triple-play service bundle, will also feature a new, companion X1 remote control app for iPhones and iPod Touches that includes a "virtual keyboard" that can help customers navigate and find linear and on-demand video, and the ability to pause a VoD title by shaking the device.

Comcast has been testing the platform, formerly called Xcalibur, in Augusta, Ga., since 2011. Pace plc is making X1's first set-top/gateway, which embeds a Docsis 3.0 cable modem and sports an Intel Corp. (Nasdaq: INTC) processor. (See Comcast Confirms Xcalibur Partners.)

Comcast Cable CEO Neil Smit is expected to demonstrate the MSO's new product here on the show floor later today.

Why this matters
This marks the launch point for Comcast's new video platform and the introduction of a platform that supports both QAM video and new IP-based apps and capabilities. Although X1 is targeted to triple-play customers, Comcast will use the new platform to gain and retain video customers following a lengthy period (21 straight quarters, in fact) in which the operator has been losing video customers to satellite TV and telco rivals. X1 is also seen as a response to growing over-the-top video competition. (See Will Comcast (Gasp!) Add Video Subs in Q1?)

For more

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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