July 17, 2013
X1 Marks the Spot
By Amy Maclean
Yes, the industry is still buzzing about the X2 glimpse it got at the Cable Show last month, but X1 needs to get here first. Comcast has had several recent launches of its X1 platform, including Nashville, TN; Jacksonville, FL; Sarasota, FL; Naples, FL; Baltimore and Frederick, MD; and Salisbury, MD.
The recent deployments put X1 in 18 markets, more than half of Comcast’s footprint. That’s a nice increase from the 30% it was in at the end of April, and it also coincides with Comcast upping marketing of the product. X1 is expected to be available throughout the MSO’s national footprint by year-end.
Programmers should take note of X1 launches, with management reporting that markets with X1 have seen increases in overall VOD views. The most viewed features are X1’s mini guide and the ability to view the last 9 channels used. That last one makes you wonder if it will be harder for newer nets to get sampling, although VOD might be the answer..
What happens when X1 comes to town? Comcast spreads the word through TV spots (we’re partial to this one
with Don Cheadle), digital ads and other marketing efforts, including local press. It’s offered to new triple play customers and to existing subs who upgrade to a 3-product package. But existing triple play customers aren’t left in the cold. They can request an upgrade. X1 does require a professional installation, so there would be a truck roll charge. “Over time, we will gradually expand the availability of X1 to additional customer segments and levels of service,” a spokesperson said.
What does X1 offer?
- The ability to record 4 shows and watch a 5th at the same time with “AnyRoom DVR” service.
- Watch recorded shows in multiple rooms, including starting a program in one room and finishing in another.
- Improved navigation with the ability to search TV listings, DVR and VOD simultaneously
- An enhanced remote that doesn’t have to be aimed straight at the box
- A companion X1 remote app for iOS devices that lets customers use motions and voice commands to control X1. For example, they can shake their iPhone to pause VOD content.