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Comcast Moving On Move Networks Alternative

Following a major shakeup at online video technology vendor Move Networks Inc. , Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is looking for a new video player for its Fancast Xfinity TV site, which has been leaning on Move's technology during the service's early days.

Comcast is now considering alternatives amid word that Irvine, Calif.-based Move Networks has been making plans to retain a financial advisor to seek “strategic alternatives,” including a possible sale of the company. It also announced that CEO Roxanne Austin -- a former DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV) executive -- was stepping down, and that it would slash its workforce to conserve cash. (See Move Networks Is on the Block.)

Comcast -- which uses the Move Networks video player to display content from HBO and other premium networks available on the Fancast Xfinity TV hub -- confirmed that it's already looking for an alternate player.

The MSO is working with Move on a “transition plan” to shift premium content to another player, Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury said. Khoury didn’t offer additional details about the technology Comcast would use after it makes the transition from the Move Networks player, which uses adaptive bit-rate technology to stream video.

Comcast, which launched its TV Everywhere site in December (it still carries the "beta" label), had already been looking at moving to new technology to power Fancast Xfnity TV. Comcast CEO Brian Roberts told the audience at The Cable Show in May that Comcast would launch an easier-to-use version of the site within three months, noting that the authentication process for verifying which subscribers should get access to online videos was too complicated. (See Comcast's 'Xfinity' Goes Live .)

“There are too many steps. We’ll have another version out in the next 90 days or so that will make it easier and easier. I think we’ve made real progress. Would I like it to be faster and more ubiquitous? Sure,” Roberts said at the convention in Los Angeles. (See Comcast CEO Dismisses Cord-Cutting Trend .)

In its announcement last week, Move didn’t detail how many employees it had cut. The company said Austin would be replaced by executive vice president of sales and development Marcus Liassides, who will be promoted to president.

It’s not the first round of cuts at Move, which was founded in 2007 and counts Comcast among its financial backers. In February 2009, it slashed 30 percent of its workforce and replaced then-CEO John Edwards with Austin. (See Move Networks Cuts 30% of Staff and Move Networks Finally Names a CEO.)

— Steve Donohue, Special to Light Reading Cable

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