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July 5, 2013
Authentication has come a long way. In the latest move, Comcast Corp. announced Home Pass, a new feature providing access to online cable content at home without the hassle of a user login screen, earlier this week.
Comcast piloted automatic authentication (aka "auto-auth") during the 2012 Olympic Games in London and this year's March Madness college basketball tournament. After a successful trial run, Home Pass is now rolling out to all of the MSO's Xfinity TV subscribers as a permanent feature.
In-home authentication works by tying user accounts to the MAC address on the home router. With Home Pass, as long as consumers stay on the home Wi-Fi network, Comcast can identify paying customers and grant immediate access to subscription content through its Xfinity website. Comcast says the Xfinity site now features more than 285,000 available video titles.
Recently, Parks Associates reported that only 26 percent of U.S. consumers are even aware of available TV Everywhere services. (See Is TV Everywhere Going Nowhere?)
Unfortunately for cable companies, even those users who are aware are often turned off when they can't remember their login credentials or the sign-in process proves too tedious.
To attract more consumers, service providers are aggressively experimenting with ways to remove the login barrier. These include testing auto-auth strategies and tying TV Everywhere access to a Facebook or Twitter Inc. account. Down the road, software vendors indicate that service providers could also extend automatic authentication outside the home by tying it directly to users' devices.
For now, Comcast is sticking with in-home automatic logins. But the MSO says it is "already starting to look at ways to extend Home Pass to additional platforms in the future."
— Mari Silbey, Special to Light Reading Cable
Senior Editor, Cable/Video
Mari Silbey is a senior editor covering broadband infrastructure, video delivery, smart cities and all things cable. Previously, she worked independently for nearly a decade, contributing to trade publications, authoring custom research reports and consulting for a variety of corporate and association clients. Among her storied (and sometimes dubious) achievements, Mari launched the corporate blog for Motorola's Home division way back in 2007, ran a content development program for Limelight Networks and did her best to entertain the video nerd masses as a long-time columnist for the media blog Zatz Not Funny. She is based in Washington, D.C.
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