Accordingly, Comcast reports that live streaming of World Cup matches by Xfinity subscribers has already surpassed streaming during the Sochi Olympic Games earlier this year. The match-up between the USA and Germany, which took the American team to the last 16 in the World Cup, tallied 683,000 live streams, the most ever for Xfinity TV. Overall, Comcast announced there were 9.2 million live streams recorded in the first 18 days of the World Cup tournament.
The Comcast numbers conveniently combine live streaming counts from both the Xfinity TV Go service and Comcast-authenticated WatchESPN. Although Xfinity TV Go is undoubtedly growing in popularity, it's a good bet that Comcast viewership overwhelmingly tracked through the WatchESPN property. The sports network reported its own figures earlier this week and said that the number of simultaneous viewers on WatchESPN during the USA v. Germany game hit 1.7 million before the end of the match. ESPN also noted that viewers had so far logged 30 million hours of World Cup streaming, beating all previous records for a live sporting event in the US. In comparison, the Winter Olympics in Sochi saw 10.8 million viewing hours. About 80% of those hours were streamed live.
Comcast is tying the growth of Xfinity TV Go to the Project Infinity vision CEO Brian Roberts first articulated more than six years ago. At the Consumer Electronics Show in 2008, Roberts announced Project Infinity, saying at the time, "[It] builds on our commitment to bring more content to people across all platforms at home and on the go, and we'll work with our partners, programmers and video producers to deliver on this vision." (See Comcast Launches 'Project Infinity'.)
Project Infinity started with a plan to radically increase the amount of video-on-demand content available to subscribers, and with the launch of Fancast.com, an early Comcast online video portal. Today, Project Infinity has morphed into Xfinity, and streaming content plays a much larger role in the service.
While Xfinity TV Go continues to evolve, there are still hurdles ahead as Comcast seeks to increase its online viewing audience. Notably, many cable subscribers still aren't aware of TV Everywhere capabilities that allow them to stream content on Internet-connected devices. According to data collected by the Cable and Telecommunications Association for Marketing in April, only 53% of users surveyed said they had heard of the TV Everywhere concept. A total of 44% of respondents between 18 and 64 years of age acknowledged using TV Everywhere in the prior six months.
Comcast and other pay-TV providers are all working to improve the marketing of TV Everywhere as well as the user authentication experience. The hope is that they'll be able to report more streaming totals in the future like the ones recorded during the World Cup.
— Mari Silbey, special to Light Reading