Comcast Flips On Skype TV

Comcast Corp. (Nasdaq: CMCSA, CMCSK) launched its Skype Ltd. -powered videoconferencing platform for HDTVs in Boston and Seattle today, with plans to introduce it in eight more markets before the end of the week.

The service, called Skype on Xfinity, is only for Comcast's triple-play customers and sells for $9.95 per month. The company isn't charging extra for the hardware kit, which includes an adapter, a video camera and a remote control. In addition to Comcast cable modem service, users will also need an HDMI-capable set-top box and, of course, a Skype account.

The other markets on deck for Skype on Xfinity include Atlanta and Augusta, Ga.; Chicago; Detroit; Harrisburg and Pittsburgh, Pa.; Indianapolis; and Miami. Comcast and Skype announced the partnership in June 2011.

Why this matters
In addition to providing a new revenue stream that adds some value to its video service, Comcast will also use the new product to gain and retain customers who take the company's full service bundle.

If the product is successful, it could be good news for Technicolor (Euronext Paris: TCH; NYSE: TCH), which makes the custom telepresence adapter for the Skype on Xfinity service.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Site Editor, Light Reading Cable

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:32:55 PM
re: Comcast Flips On Skype TV

Maybe I just don't get it, but would you pay $9.95 a month to put Skype on your TV when you can get it on your PC for free? Especially when it's getting easier to route Web services to your TV?

Am I missing something here? Has anybody done the consumer research??


Flook 12/5/2012 | 5:32:53 PM
re: Comcast Flips On Skype TV

I think this might be targeted mainly at the burgeoning couch potato market.

craigleddy 12/5/2012 | 5:32:51 PM
re: Comcast Flips On Skype TV

Well, I suppose some people might want to see their family & friends on their big-screen HDTV, but I'm not sure I want to get that up-close and personal (no offense to my family & friends).

On a more serious note, I think this might have some application with certain business customers, such as some SMBs that are seeking a cheap means of doing videoconferencing and want the near-telepresence of a big-screen TV.


AESerm 12/5/2012 | 5:32:50 PM
re: Comcast Flips On Skype TV

Good point, Craig. The fully immersive telepresence systems reportedly cost in the $250k range, and you need at least two to tango. Dedicated videoconferencing systems can run $20k down to $5k, but that's still alot more than $120/month (additive to Comcast video subscription) discussed here. For a business, even an SMB, a lot would depend on video quality. But as one of the new competitors wrote in Forbes earlier this month, Cisco and Polycom already are facing a number of challenges in the high-end category. 

Jeff Baumgartner 12/5/2012 | 5:32:47 PM
re: Comcast Flips On Skype TV

I think part of their pitch is the big screen and ease of installation... though, to Craig's point, how hard is it to plug in a Webcam and install Skype on the PC?  But they're obviously trying to give more reasons for customers to take the triple play. The good thing about this is it will work with anyone else is using Skype. As for the target market, definitely families and not so tech-savvy people who want to videophone family members. JB

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