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Comcast's New X1 TV Navigation App Means Business

Jeff Baumgartner
8/27/2019

Expanding on a capability that Comcast developed for its residential X1 video platform, Comcast Business has introduced a TV service navigation app tailored for bars, restaurants, fitness centers and other small and midsized businesses that take the cable operator's TV service.

Comcast Business still supplies standalone X1 voice remotes to control individual TVs in these new business locations. But the new app lets business owners and managers control up to 16 TVs -- or a subset of them -- in any given location.

To enable the app after download and installation, the business owner/manager needs only to key in the business services credentials. The app also supports the same voice search and navigation capabilities found with the standalone X1 remote device, as it runs on the cloud infrastructure that also powers the residential-focused version of the X1 service, explained Christian Nascimento, VP, product and premise services, at Comcast Business.

Nascimento said Comcast Business developed the X1 remote app for SMBs after finding several use cases for it in venues, like bars and restaurants, that contain a large number of TV screens. Those business owners were seeking a simpler way to change the channels on multiple TVs without having to input those changes on each and every TV/set-top combo in the venue, he added.

The enhanced remote app for SMBs debuts ahead of the kickoff of the NFL regular season and almost six months after Comcast launched a version of X1 for that part of the market, expanding on its earlier focus on residential customers, college campuses and a few hotels. The SMB-focused version of X1 includes some of the hallmark features of the service, such as the interactive guide, voice remote and sports app, as well as connected apps that present stock market and weather info on the TV screen. Since it's not a residential offering, this version of X1 does not support integrated access to streaming apps like Netflix, Tubi and Amazon Prime Video or the X1 cloud DVR.

At the time, Comcast Business called the offering a "refresh" of the video product it had been selling into SMBs. As one of Comcast's high-growth areas, the business services unit pulled down revenues of $1.9 billion in Q2, up 9.8% versus the year-ago period.

Comcast isn't breaking out the percentage of SMB customers with video service that have signed on for the X1 version. But Nascimento acknowledged that the new offering is a premium-level HD form of that product set.

From an anecdotal standpoint, he said Comcast Business has received higher NPS (net promoter score) results from SMBs on the new X1-powered version of the product compared to those on the legacy TV offering.

Comcast Business is also presenting this upgrade option and picking up its TV game with a more sophisticated offering for SMBs as it attempts to take away share in the sector from satellite-delivered offerings from Dish Network and AT&T-owned DirecTV.

It's not yet clear if this newly tailored version of X1 will play outside of Comcast's footprint. Comcast's current batch of X1 syndication partners -- Rogers Communications, Shaw Communications, Cox Communications and Videotron -- have focused those efforts on the residential market.

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— Jeff Baumgartner, Senior Editor, Light Reading

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