Comcast to Stream TV to iPads, Android Tablets

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) will bring live TV streaming to Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPads and a range of Android-powered tablets "later this year," but will limit that capability to in-home streaming, at least at the start. (See Comcast to Pipe Live TV to Tablets.)

The same won't be true for video-on-demand (VoD) content when Comcast upgrades its iPad app with a new feature called "Play Now." The MSO said it expects to offer nearly 3,000 hours of VoD content on the Apple device, and allow customers to access those titles in the home or on the go.

The current version of the app turns the iPad into a content navigation system and fancy remote control. Comcast is also extending those features to PCs following an update to its Xfinity TV website.

Comcast didn't say if it intends eventually to allow out-of-home streaming of its linear TV lineup or why that feature isn't being offered out of the chute, but the lack of it is likely because the MSO has yet to secure all the rights it needs to do so.

Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) announced a similar strategy last year, but acknowledged that there were some "questions about the rights structure" that would need to be ironed out before it could let customers stream live TV outside the home. (See Cablevision to Deliver Live TV & VoD to iPad.)

Those decisions clash with cable competitor Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH), which is already allowing customers to "place-shift" video programming using set-tops and standalone boxes outfitted with Sling Media Inc. technology. (See TelcoTV 2010: Dish Ready to Serve 'Sling Adapter' and Dish Starts Selling 'Sling-Loaded' HD-DVR .)

Why this matters
Comcast and other MSOs are beefing up their TV Everywhere (TVE) strategies as they continue to see video subscribers churn by jumping to other providers. TVE is also coming into play as MSOs face the threat of broadband-fed over-the-top video services and a budding trend of "cord-cutting."

But it's been a step-by-step process. Comcast started off by offering a menu of on-demand content only to PCs, but is now preparing to take advantage of the popularity of iPads and a bevy of Android tablets that will be hitting the market. The next logical step is to offer similar access on smart phones.

As the content goes, the next coup will be the ability to offer live TV outside the home -- if and when Comcast's programming partners will allow it.

For more For more about Comcast's recent TVE efforts, please check out the following stories:

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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