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Androids Join Comcast's Streaming Party

Jeff Baumgartner
5/29/2012

Here's what's pushing cable's buttons this morning.

  • Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK)'s latest Xfinity TV app release for Android now lets authenticated customers stream on-demand content from the operator's TV Everywhere library, joining a lineup that already includes iOS devices, PCs and the Xbox 360. To run the app's Play Now feature, the target tablet or smartphone must be running Android 2.3 Gingerbread and higher.

  • Cox Communications Inc. has spruced up TV Connect, an app for the iPad that lets digital customers stream a subset of TV channels to tablets within reach of the home's Wi-Fi signal. The 1.1.0 release adds in the ability for customers to view and sort TV listings for all channels offered on the app and a full-screen version of the app's grid guide. (See Cox to Stream Live TV to Tablets .)

  • Dish Network LLC (Nasdaq: DISH) and major U.S. broadcasters are battling over the satellite giant's new Auto Hop feature, but Tony Wible at Janney Capital Markets says Dish's ad-zapping technology won't inflict much damage to TV advertising revenues, at least not in the early going. Given current viewing patterns and the low penetration of the Hopper HD-DVR, the only device that supports Auto Hop, he believes that just 1 percent of ad revenues are at risk. He also points out 82 percent of broadcast viewing happens the same day that shows debut on-air; Dish's Auto Hop feature doesn't take effect until 1 a.m. ET after a show has been recorded to the library of PrimeTime Anytime, a service on the Hopper that automatically records the prime-time programming of ABC, CBS, Fox and NBC and stores it for eight consecutive days. (See Dish Sticks It to the Broadcasters and Dish, Broadcasters Go to War Over Ad-Zapper .)

  • Comcast has launched Xfinity Home, its home security and automation service, in California's Sacramento Valley region, which includes cities such as Biggs, Chico, Modesto, Oakdale, Sacramento and Stockton. Comcast expects to have Xfinity Home rolled out to most of its markets by the end of 2012. (See Comcast Goes Big With Xfinity Home .)

  • The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) 's Radiocommunication Sector has drafted new technical recommendations for Ultra High Definition Television (UHDTV), setting the stage for two "picture levels": eight megapixels (sometimes called "4K") and 32 megapixels (known as the "8K" version). By comparison, today's HDTV images support a range of one to two megapixels. ITU-R Study Group 6 has submitted the draft for approval. This video explains the UHDTV hubbub, and offers a sense on when service providers will need to be prepared for it:



    — Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

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    msilbey
    msilbey
    12/5/2012 | 5:31:51 PM
    re: Androids Join Comcast's Streaming Party


    I was a pretty late adopter for HD, and I have to admit I probably wouldn't pay a lot of money for 4K resolution right now even if the content were available. However, having seen a demo of NDS' Surfaces concept with wall-sized video playback, I do believe 4K has a future. When the video is literally all around you, 4K will make a big difference. 

    Duh!
    Duh!
    12/5/2012 | 5:31:48 PM
    re: Androids Join Comcast's Streaming Party


    I'm a firm believer in the Law of Diminishing Returns.   4k and 8k lead to  questions like: will consumers value the more immersive experience above the incremental price point of 4k or 8k over HD?   What is consumer expectation of the lifetime of a display, and would the more immersive experience lead consumers to discard or repurpose a display before the end of its expected life?  How many consumers have a room large enough for a home theatre that could take advantage of the higher resolution?  Will access networks with enough capacity, high enough service rates, and large enough usage caps be ubiquious enough to support UHD programming?  Can broadcast providers support more than two channels of the same content (or can everything be retrofitted to scalable coding)?  Can UHD be supported over 6 MHz channels with 256QAM or VSB modulation, or is it conditioned on an all-IP future?


    Considering the hype and disappointment over 3D a couple of years ago, I'd be very cautious about betting on UHD.

    ethertype
    ethertype
    12/5/2012 | 5:31:44 PM
    re: Androids Join Comcast's Streaming Party


    All good questions, but I disagree with the idea of "diminishing returns", at least if you take the long view.  More video resolution, like more processing power, storage, or bandwidth, will be valued and used.  It's just a matter of how long it takes for the cost curve to intersect with the innovative ideas of how to use the extra capability.  The upper limit on useful resolution will only be reached when we have immersive virtual reality -- a "retina" display that fills your entire field of vision.  If that's what our eyes and brains really want, even the 8k format is just an intermediate step on a much longer journey.


    The thing I find most amusing about this video, and other commentary on UHD, is that people still talk about when it will be deployed for "broadcast" TV.  The guy from Japan says trials in 2020, which means full deployment in like 2025.  But really, who will care about broadcast enough at that point to go through the massive pain of another broadcast spectrum transition?  And in any case, the spectrum will be far more valuable for wireless Internet services.  I'd bet that UHD is destined to be the first post-broadcast TV format.

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