Comcast, Time Warner Cable take lower profile at CES 2013

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Steve Donohue, FierceCable

Compared to the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show, where Comcast (Nasdaq: CMCSA) CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner Cable (NYSE: TWC) chief Glenn Britt appeared on stage with a top Samsung executive, the two largest cable MSOs took a much lower profile at this week's convention.

No cable CEOs took the stage in Las Vegas. One reason why you didn't hear as much from Comcast and Time Warner Cable at CES 2013 is they still haven't launched the products they touted two years ago, when Roberts and Britt said their companies would soon deliver live TV, video-on-demand programming and even content stored on DVRs to connected TVs from Samsung, without requiring subscribers to use traditional cable set-tops. Roberts and Britt also said in January 2011 that they would deliver live cable programming to subscribers who bought a Samsung Galaxy tablet computer. While Comcast and Time Warner Cable now offer subscribers the ability to access live cable programming within their own homes on Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL) iPad and iPhone through their respective Xfinity TV and TWC TV apps, live programming still isn't available on the Galaxy.

Comcast and Time Warner Cable aren't the only major pay TV distributors that haven't followed through on previous CES announcements. In December 2011, Verizon (NYSE: VZ) shot a YouTube video in which it touted new home video servers and IP set-tops from Motorola Mobility that would be deployed to FiOS TV subscribers, and Motorola touted the servers at last year's CES. Verizon demonstrated the device, now called the Motorola Medios VMS1100, at this week's convention, but the company still hasn't announced when it will deploy the gear to FiOS TV subscribers.

To be fair, it's worth noting that Roberts and Comcast have executed Project Infinity, unveiled at the 2008 CES, which was focused on delivering thousands of hours of programming to subscribers using video-on-demand platforms and Web and mobile devices. Comcast has led the cable industry in the launch of TV Everywhere websites and mobile video apps. While it has taken longer for major MSOs to deliver their entire programming lineups and VOD programming through connected TVs from Samsung and other manufacturers, Time Warner Cable has made progress by announcing this week that subscribers can stream 300 networks through Roku devices. And a Comcast spokesman has told me that the company will soon launch an Xfinity TV app for flash-enabled TVs from Samsung. 

Comcast, Time Warner Cable and Cablevision (NYSE: CVC) have demonstrated at cable conventions apps for connected TVs that can deliver their entire programming lineups to subscribers. It's not yet clear when they will launch those apps, but the MSOs may favor a venue such as The Cable Show convention this June in Washington, D.C., to unveil next-generation products. --Steve