• Comcast's iPad Streaming is a Milestone for Pay-TV

    This week Comcast began streaming certain shows to their Xfinity TV iPad app. I've watched a few shows already and played around a bit. My reaction is mostly positive; the app is fast (though there's a slight blank screen delay before playback begins) and browsing is straightforward. The biggest issue, as others have noted this week, is minimal content selection. True, when compared to Netflix, for example, Xfinity TV still looks thin, despite the 3,000+ hours Comcast says is there.

    But this criticism misses the app's larger significance, which is that it is a huge milestone for the traditionally insular pay-TV industry to untether programming from the set-top box, and integrate with a popular consumer device. This is exactly the kind of thing many consumers want, and indeed, expect. It's also a great value. In the old days, a feature like this would have surely cost $5-$10 extra per month. But Comcast is wisely not charging for it. That means people with lightly used 2nd or 3rd digital set-tops can start thinking about returning them and saving money. Last but not least, it's great PR for Comcast, not only due to the iPad-related halo effect, but also because it's one of those surprising things that delights customers.