Comcast in talks to weave more FAST channels into X1's guideComcast in talks to weave more FAST channels into X1's guide
Tubi, Pluto TV and Amazon's Freevee are among the free, ad-supported TV (FAST) apps that have already been integrated with the X1 platform.
June 14, 2023
Comcast will soon integrate a batch of free, ad-supported television (FAST) streaming channels from Xumo into the X1 set-top box guide. That should be just the start.
Comcast is in talks with other programmers about adding some of their FAST channels to X1 and the Xfinity Stream app, Vito Forlenza, VP of Xfinity entertainment apps at Comcast, said during an interview at this week's StreamTV show in Westminster, Colorado.
Forlenza didn't divulge who those talks are with, but individual applications from a range of FAST streaming services have already been integrated with the X1 platform. Examples include Fox-owned Tubi, Paramount Global's Pluto TV and Amazon's Freevee.
The general idea is to curate the top FAST channels into the X1 grid guide without interfering with channels that are part of a customer's paid subscription, said Forlenza. Comcast will do that in part by grouping FAST channels in their own "neighborhood" within the X1 guide. Comcast is already doing that with FAST channels that have been woven into its Xfinity Stream app for mobile devices and certain streaming players and connected TVs.
Tied into X1's native 'player'
Another critical element is to ensure that customers can quickly flip to a FAST channel like a traditional channel without needing to go through the process of opening up a separate app. Comcast is executing on that by running FAST channels on X1's native "player" for set-tops, Forlenza explained.
"We wanted to make it [FAST channels] look like any other channel," he said.
Additionally, a full metadata integration will enable FAST channels to take advantage of X1's text and voice search capabilities, and allow for FAST channels to appear on X1's "last nine tray" that lets customers quickly select channels or on-demand titles that have been recently viewed.
X1 customers will initially be able to pause a FAST channel stream, but not fast-forward, rewind or record the content. Comcast eventually intends to add fast-forward and rewind functionalities to FAST channels featured in the X1 guide.
Forlenza said Comcast's editors also plan to feature FAST channels in X1's "Best of Live TV" showcase for movies and TV shows, and in other areas of X1 that curate content for viewers.
"At the end of the day we're trying to augment [the viewer's] experience," he said.
Comcast initially will integrate 19 Xumo-branded channels, including those focused on genres such as movies, comedy, documentaries, travel and reality TV, plus the NBC News Now FAST channel. The Sky News FAST channel will be added later.
Those Xumo channels are part of Xumo Play, a FAST service that is now part of the Xumo joint venture of Comcast and Charter Communications. Xumo Enterprise, a leg of the JV that has forged FAST partnerships with companies such as TCL and Google, is the tech provider for the FAST channel integration with Comcast's X1 platform.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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