Mobile Video

Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) is giving customers a top-notch cable TV experience on the go (minus the ability to watch live TV and control the recording of programs) with its Apple Inc. (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPhone and iPod Touch application.

Customers with a Comcast.net user ID can download the first release, which syncs their iPhone/iPod devices with the MSO's "SmartZone" email inboxes and address books, and lets them manage voicemail messages and read attachments that the Apple devices are capable of viewing. (See Comcast Dials Up iPhone App.)

The video components provide TV listings for up to a week in advance and access to trailers of some movies that are offered through Comcast's video-on-demand (VoD) service.


What the app doesn’t do (yet, anyway) is provide a way for consumers to program their DVRs remotely. DirecTV Group Inc. (NYSE: DTV), AT&T Inc. (NYSE: T), and others offer iPhone and iPod access to DVRs already.

"rDVR is on the roadmap for a future release," Comcast spokesman Charlie Douglas said via email. Hold your breath starting... NOW!

Comcast has not announced any plans to deliver live video programming to iPhones or any other mobile handheld devices. Its forthcoming "OnDemand Online" Web TV trial will be strictly PC-centric at the start. [Ed note: We've also asked if iPhones and iPod Touch devices will be able to access the OnDemand Online library through their native Internet browsers.] (See Time Warner, Comcast Team Up for TV Everywhere, CBS Joins Comcast's Internet TV Trial, and More Nets Join Comcast's Internet TV Test.)

UPDATE: Comcast spokeswoman Jennifer Khoury confirmed that OnDemand Online content won't be offered to iPhones and iPod Touch devices during the upcoming trial period, which will vet a new subscriber "authentication" technology. "But our goal is certainly to make content available across platforms," she added.

SmartZone smarts and WiMax ambitions
Comcast is keen to tie other devices to its SmartZone services. The operator is also working on an "enhanced cordless phone" offering that unifies its digital phone service with the company's SmartZone communications center. (See Comcast Enhancing the Home Phone .)

Comcast has already developed another mobile app that runs on any Web-enabled mobile device and provides many of the same features. Fellow MSO Cablevision Systems Corp. (NYSE: CVC) has developed something similar to support its WiFi effort. (See Cablevision Mobilizes Content Play.)

Cable Digital News reported earlier this year that Comcast will integrate SmartZone with the MSO's WiMax service, which is already available in Portland, Ore., and being marketed under the "High-Speed 2go" brand. In late June, Comcast became the first Clearwire LLC (Nasdaq: CLWR) partner to launch a service that uses the carrier's mobile WiMax platform. (See Comcast Maxes Out in Portland.)

— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Cable Digital News

COMMENTS Add Comment
DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:00:31 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

great point. very disappointing that comcast wouldn't bring more to mobile devices, given all the video properties it owns.

btw, what would you like to see in a mobile app from your ISP, phone company, & TV provider?


mcgonegal 12/5/2012 | 4:00:31 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App



Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:00:30 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

Yes, i believe rights for mobililty is a sticking point, at least for the content that Comcast doesn't own outright.  An update to the story will go live later today, but the company made it pretty clear that the goal is to make video content availalbe across platforms, including mobile, of course.

But they also confirmed that the OnDemand Online trial coming later this year will strickly be for PCs and to run tests of its new "authentication" system.

And I suspect we'll learn much more about Comcast's cross-platform strategy next week.  The NY chapter of CTAM is hosting a "Teleseminar" on the topic. Of note: Amy Banse, president of Comcast Interactive Media (the division that heads up Fancast and the OnDemand Online initiative) will be on the panel. 

In the meantime, I may try this app out on my ipod Touch. it's free, so no harm , no foul.



rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:00:30 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

re: "very disappointing that comcast wouldn't bring more to mobile devices, given all the video properties it owns."

I'm not a broadcasting rights expert but I was under the impression that Comcast didn't own much video at all but rather they had some broadcasting rights.  I don't know if those broadcasting rights include mobile devices.  Please correct me if this is mistaken.

DCITDave 12/5/2012 | 4:00:29 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

Comcast  owns most or all of the follow properties:


* Comcast SportsNet

* E! Entertainment Television

* Style

* The Golf Channel

* Outdoor Life Network

* G4

So, on day one of their iPhone app, they had the opportunity to blow away anything that AT&T could offer in the way of exclusive content. Owning content will be a weapon for the smarter network operators in the future. Not all of them, however, have figured that out.


mtomioka 12/5/2012 | 4:00:26 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App Please help me to understand, Comcast Customer with iPhone must subscribe AT&T Wireless, so..., at this points AT&T and Comcast can be a pair? Then, what's happen the region where Comcast and U-Verse compete?
rjmcmahon 12/5/2012 | 4:00:25 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

Smaller operators being able to negotiate exclusivity in today's world seems very unlikely. 

We're not flying blind here.  One can look at radio/TV evolution to see how content rights evolve and it's not in favor of small operators.  Apple could pull it off because Steve Jobs bought Pixar (which burned through $40M of his $50M net worth at the time, all while not letting him in the building!) while these creative geniuses were developing Toy Story.  When that hit big, he ultimately became a board member on Disney, one of the largest media companies in the world.  I don't think there is another SV billionare besides Jobs that could have done what he did for Apple.  

If small operators were able to generate a profit for both themselves as well as for the copyright owners every evangelical church and strip bar on a Texas freeway would be showing us how it's done.  Big tits and paying for indulgences ain't enough it seems.



Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:00:25 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

As far as the Apps Store goes, the relationship here is between Comcast and Apple as I understand it..so the Comcast app, in a sense, is going "over the top" if it's delivered through ATT's cell network or even a Wifi connection that's hooked into a wired broadband grid that's not Comcast's. Presumably the OTT concept will also apply with On Demand Online if Comcast subs (if their "authentication" checks out)  tap into the service via cell connection or a broadband connection not operated by Comcast. 


Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 4:00:08 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

For those who like to keep score on these sorts of things, Comcast said the app hit 100,000 downlods in less than a week after its initial release, placing it as the No. 3 "free app" in the Entertainment category and No. 18 among all free apps.

free-iphone-apps 12/5/2012 | 3:59:54 PM
re: Comcast's TV-Free iPhone App

I also hit a website for Free iPhone Apps.


Sign In