After more than five years of planning a mobile video product called AnyPlay, Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) is beginning to allow subscribers in Denver and Nashville, Tenn., to watch any channel from their cable lineup on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad or Motorola Mobility's (NYSE: MMI) Xoom tablet.
The AnyPlay service, which relies on Motorola's new Televation device and a WiFi router, lets Comcast subscribers watch live video on a tablet if they are within range of their WiFi router. Comcast spokesman Peter Dobrow said the MSO plans to support additional mobile devices through AnyPlay.
Dobrow said Comcast has no plans to use AnyPlay to allow subscribers to watch live video on mobile devices outside the home. He said the MSO will use on its XfinityTV apps for mobile devices such the iPad, iPhone and mobile phones and tablets that run Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG) Android platform to watch live video. Comcast recently struck a deal with Disney (NYSE: DIS) that will allow its subscribers to watch live video from ESPN, Disney Channel and other Disney-owned networks on mobile devices anywhere they go.
Comcast trademarked the brand AnyPlay for use in mobile video devices in September 2006. It announced an agreement in January 2008 with Panasonic to market portable digital video recorders called AnyPlay. The companies had said they would distribute AnyPlay portable DVRs in 2009, but later dropped those plans. Dobrow said Wednesday that Comcast and Panasonic both agreed not to go forward with the portable DVR product.
One of the biggest challenges Comcast and other pay TV providers face in distributing mobile video to subscribers outside the home is obtaining mobile rights from cable programmers.
Comcast senior VP of video product development Mark Hess detailed the company's AnyPlay product on the company blog on Tuesday. He said the company plans to expand AnyPlay to other markets later this year.
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