June 7, 2019
After cutting its teeth on 4K with VoD fare, Comcast is now ready to bite into its first live TV offering in the pixel-packed format.
Comcast said it would use its X1 platform to offer live 4K coverage in both English and Spanish for the FIFA Women's World Cup from Fox and Telemundo of all 52 tournament matches. The 2019 Women's World Cup gets underway today as tourney host France takes on South Korea.
Comcast won't charge extra for the 4K coverage, though customers will need a 4K display as well a 4K-capable X1 device. Comcast currently offers two X1 devices capable of 4K -- the Xi6 IP video client and the XG1v4, a newer Arris-made box that integrates a DVR and also supports High Dynamic Range (HDR).
Figure 1: Alongside its 4K coverage, Comcast will also use its X1 platform to aggregate access to live matches, replays, stats, news and other features and coverage tied to the FIFA 2019 Women's World Cup
Comcast will deliver the 4K streams into homes via its managed IP network (not OTT). A company official said those streams would be encoded in HEVC at a bit rate of 18 Mbit/s.
The 2019 FIFA Women's World Cup marks the first time Comcast will deliver live 4K TV, and will likely set the stage for more live coverage in the advanced format.
Comcast has been offering a mix of 4K content via VoD, including coverage from recent past Olympic games and World Cup tournaments, as well as from OTT-delivered apps such as Netflix, YouTube and Amazon Prime Video.
While this is a first for Comcast, it's not the only US pay-TV provider offering live coverage of the 2019 Women's World Cup. Dish Network and fuboTV are among others that have announced plans to provide 4K coverage of the tournament from France.
Update: According to Fox Sports, other MVPDs that are distributing Women's World Cup coverage in 4K include DirecTV and Altice USA. The network is also providing 4K streams from the tournament through the Fox Sports app and the Fox Now app.
Update: Verizon is also providing 4K coverage of 52 tournament matches, noting that this also marks the first time that Fios is offering live 4K. To access that 4K coverage, customers will need a Fios TV One set-top and a subscription that includes Fox, FS1 and FS2.
Comcast said it would integrate some other bells and whistles on its X1 for the Women's World Cup:
English and Spanish support for the X1 voice remote.
A "Tournament Hub" that aggregates all live, VoD and streaming World Cup programming, as well as a scoreboard, team previews, player profiles, replays of matches and match highlights.
Dedicated "virtual channels" for elements such as impressive goals, tournament news and analysis.
An on-screen companion with live scores, schedules, standings, brackets and stats delivered by the X1 Sports App.
Instant restarts and replays of any match on FS1, FS1 and Universo, and on Fox and Telemundo in select markets.
— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading
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