back to article Comcast stabs set-top boxes in the back, pipes directly into smart TVs

Comcast appears to be suddenly in the mood for murdering set-top boxes. Dubbed the Xfinity TV Partner Program, the campaign allows Comcast to offer its regular cable service through an app that runs on smart TVs or connected devices such as streaming video players. The app streams Comcast TV service, including broadcasts, …

  1. NoneSuch Silver badge


    Unity of communications is inevitable. The Internet will have all audio - video services resident within ten years.

  2. cyke1

    Click bait title. They are not gonna kill them off, they are just offering option to watch TV without.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The cable companies had already been trying to push this "app" model

    This would require a proprietary Comcast app running on your smart TV or third party set top, meaning you'd still be stuck with Comcast's UI and it wouldn't integrate with anything else. You'd be at the mercy of Comcast and your TV OEM (or Roku or whoever for a third party box) for timely updates of the app. If Comcast made some changes but Samsung was no longer updating your smart TV - and they're generally abandoning them about 18-24 months after sale - then you would be SOL.

    That's why there needs to be an open standard so there isn't a different app for every cable company, and you aren't at their mercy for making unilateral changes on their end. If you have a smart TV with a built in browser that hasn't been updated for five years, it will still work because HTML is an open standard. The same would be true for a TV that wasn't updated running the standardized 'client' end.

    That's why what Comcast is doing is not an acceptable replacement for what the FCC wants them to do.

    However, if Comcast argues they need five years to develop towards this new standard the FCC can point to this and say "wow, you guys had your own app out pretty quickly and it is doing pretty much the same thing except for being proprietary, I don't think you really need anywhere near five years"

    1. Fibbles

      Re: The cable companies had already been trying to push this "app" model

      My advice has always been to get a dumb TV and a smart box to plug into it. Smart services will inevitably suffer code rot or be deliberately made obsolete in which case it's a lot cheaper to replace a box than a TV.

      This move by Comcast shouldn't be the death of set-top boxes, it's just going to allow consolidation of multiple services into one box.

    2. Dan 55 Silver badge

      Re: The cable companies had already been trying to push this "app" model

      For some reason big monopolies always have a few projects in the drawer that they can pull out in the event that the regulator starts making things uncomfortable for them or the smaller competition comes up with something cool, but they will never bring it out unless forced to.

    3. Alan Edwards

      Re: The cable companies had already been trying to push this "app" model

      Yep, agreed. Most of the apps on my Sony TV and Blu-Ray are already abandoned.

      What you really want to do is move the app to an external box that just pipes video and audio to the display and audio equipment :-)

      To be fair, that external box could be a Roku or HTPC that also runs Plex, NetFlix, Amazon etc.

    4. onefastskater

      Re: The cable companies had already been trying to push this "app" model

      Where's the DVR? It's racked and stacked in a Comcast data center and the app simply provides a UI. You will still be locked in.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Let me guess, they're using the new HTML5 EME DRM in a totally nonstandard manner?

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: HTML5?

      Downvoted for implying that there are legitimate uses for DRM? Let me rephrase that: Comcast is only embracing HTML5 video now that it's been thoroughly undermined by this EME bullshit.

  5. Charles 9 Silver badge

    What about the move to switch off the analog channels, which came several months BEFORE the FCC brouhaha?

    1. largefile

      Analog TV via cable is a waste of bandwidth.

      I wish the cable companies had dumped analog completely 10 years ago with about a 12:1 data use ratio analog is a big waste of bandwidth. Sadly, most of the recovered bandwidth goes into providing more channels we don't need rather than less compression. In either case...analog is a waste of space.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge

    I think this is why: They save the cost of the boxes and through the proprietary app, lock in the customer. As others have pointed out, TV's are expensive for consumers to replace and the makers dump support over the side real fast...

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "By leveraging the open HTML5 standard"

    "By using the open HTML5 standard"

    Pretentious dickhead managementspeak

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "By leveraging the open HTML5 standard"

      Tut tut. In 100 years the word "leverage" will officially have an alternate meaning of "use." Yes, it's corruption of the language, but practically every uttered word was a corruption at one time.

      My advice is to 'chill' and stop 'stressing' so much. :-D

      1. Inventor of the Marmite Laser

        Re: "By leveraging the open HTML5 standard"

        How about I leverage the rough end of a pineapple on your rectal extremities? :-)

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: "By leveraging the open HTML5 standard"

          Rectal extremities? I'm afraid I haven't got any, but I'd be happy to leverage yours. You'll have to tell me where you keep them...

  8. joed

    next month

    Comcast is rolling out TV rental in select markets

  9. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Once again I read this and think..

    Lawful customers are being lined up for shafting, whilst freetards are immune.

  10. rboote

    Data Caps?

    What about data caps? I'm assuming they'd have to exclude this usage from normal data caps in the markets they have them. I wonder how that jives with net neutrality.

    1. NotBob

      Re: Data Caps?

      Net neutrality? We've heard of that. We even came up with a 400 page documenyt outlining our position on our definition of the FCC's role in defining that.

      And it's worded like that, too.

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