While at the Cable Show early this week, I had a chance to sit down with Amy Banse, President of Comcast Interactive Media, which is driving the rollout of Fancast Xfinity TV - what Comcast calls its TV Everywhere service. After a lot of PR build-up last fall, Comcast officially launched FXTV (my shorthand) last December. As a Comcast triple-play customer myself, I was able to give it a try, and I thought the initial effort was respectable, even though the content selection was limited.
Flash forward 5 months and curiously, Comcast hasn't said a peep about how things are going with the FXTV rollout. Amy explained that with the NBCU deal's approval process underway, the company has chosen to maintain a relatively low profile on FXTV, something she hopes will change in early fall. Amy said about 1 million people are accessing FXTV regularly, with engagement time a lot higher than with the open Fancast portal. Subscribers to premium channels like HBO are the heaviest users and like FXTV the most. Primarily people use FXTV to catch up on missed episodes and past seasons.
Still, Amy noted that the authentication process needs to be improved substantially, reducing the number of steps from its current 8-10 (though I have to say, I just authenticated on my new Mac and it really wasn't that painful). Amy's eager to introduce a universal ID approach, so users don't need to scramble to remember their Comcast login information. And the company is working on getting more content; the key issues to doing so are proving in authentication, building trust with content partners and enabling measurement.
I was an early fan of the TV Everywhere approach and believe it is key to blunting cord-cutting's appeal. I recognize that nothing ever happens as fast as you'd like it to, but Comcast - and other operators - need to hustle more on rolling out TV Everywhere initiatives. As I noted recently, Netflix is banging it out of the park, gaining more mind-share and disruptive potential. They're just one of many new competitors the industry needs to worry about.
VideoNuze is the authoritative online source for original analysis and news aggregation focused on the burgeoning online video industry. Founded in 2007 by Will Richmond, a 20-year veteran of the broadband, cable TV, content and technology industries, VideoNuze is read by executive-level decision-makers who need to get beyond the standard headlines and achieve a deep understanding of online video’s disruptive impact.