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CES: Samsung, TWC, Comcast team up on streaming live TV

Fri, 01/07/2011 - 7:45am
Mike Robuck

The International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas has turned into an "Internet on everything" affair, and last night Samsung announced it was working with Comcast and Time Warner Cable on sending live Internet streams to broadband-connected TVs and mobile devices.

Samsung's Galaxy TabYoon Boo-Keun, Samsung's visual display division president, said during his keynote address last night that his company was working with the two cable operators. Time Warner Cable CEO Glenn Britt and Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts were on hand to help demonstrate the streaming capabilities, which included Samsung's broadband-connected "Smart TVs" and the company's Android-based Galaxy Tab.

Both the Smart TV and tablet application will be available later this year to the cable operator's subscribers. One of the advantages of using IP to deliver video to connected TVs is the elimination of traditional set-top boxes, but DVR users will still need to keep a box plugged in.

Comcast CTO and executive vice president Tony Werner wrote about the Samsung announcement on the cable operator's corporate blog.

"What's really exciting about this is that for the first time on a connected TV, you'll be able to use our rich, Web-like interface with simpler navigation combined with the ability to seamlessly search across linear TV, DVR recordings and video-on-demand among tens of thousands of content choices," Werner wrote. "And, on the tablet, the Xfinity TV experience is a virtual television guide and a mobile video player all in one. If you have Xfinity TV digital, you'll be able to browse, discover and sort video content; change the channel on a Samsung Smart TV in real time; and program DVRs. In addition, you'll be able to watch streaming TV programming and movies on-demand directly on the tablet and access that content across multiple devices."

Comcast said earlier in the week that it was working on deploying live streaming to both iPads and Android-based devices when it announced several enhancements to Xfinity TV, which is the cable operator's TV Everywhere service.

Like the iPad, Comcast said the Galaxy Tab could also function as a remote control when paired with a Samsung Smart TV.

Time Warner Cable's Jeff Simmermon wrote about similar functionalities on Time Warner Cable's corporate blog.

"I've heard a lot of talk about TV over IP, and this is the first step," Simmermon wrote. "This is the beginning of the elimination of the set-top box, a movement toward a world where you can connect anyone's hardware to the network – or anyone else's network – and enjoy television the way you like it, simple and easy."

Simmermon also wrote that Samsung's Smart TV could access content from any DVR in the home.

Also at CES this week, Time Warner Cable announced it was working on delivering video over IP to some of Sony's broadband-connected Bravia TVs.

Bringing Internet search capabilities to devices such as tablets has been an ongoing goal of cable operators over the past few years. While customers will no doubt enjoy searching the Internet for video content on tablets from the comfort of their couches, the biggest hurdle for cable operators to overcome is offering traditional network shows and movies over the Internet to subscribers when they're not at home, which still needs buy in from the content owners.

Also during the Samsung keynote address at CES, Hulu CEO Jason Kilar announced for the first time that Hulu was working to bring the Hulu Plus subscription service to select Android phones, which will be available in the coming months.

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