Thursday, December 16, 2010

Comcast Testing Internet TV Service

Comcast Corp. is testing a new service that knits together television and the Internet, as the U.S. cable giant goes after rivals that threaten to undermine its business.

Users can watch and search a smattering of Web video through their televisions and search across live, on-demand and recorded programming.

The service, known to participants as "Spectrum" and internally as "Xcalibur," doesn't let participants freely browse the Web, though they do have some basic connections to social networks to comment on television shows, the people familiar with the matter said.

While the test is small, it marks a significant step in the efforts of the largest TV distributor in the U.S. to adapt to the rise of Internet programming and the cohort of devices—such as Roku boxes and Apple TV—that make it easier and more convenient to watch.

Those efforts, including forays from giants like Google Inc., Microsoft Corp., and Apple Inc., haven't displaced traditional TV so far. Cable companies are quick to point out that the new players may struggle to manage the costs of delivering massive amounts of content without the infrastructure cable operators have. But they are emerging as stronger competitors as they procure more content and strike partnerships with video brands like Netflix Inc.

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