In addition to the big news around Comcast's Dreamworks acquisition, the company has announced that Xfinity TV will now be available on streaming devices, like Roku and Samsung. The aptly named initiative is called the Xfinity TV Partner Program and the clear impetus is preparation for a world without a set-top box. As Comcast noted, “we are providing a common framework to make it easy for TV and other device manufacturers to bring our (app) to customers on their devices.”
Right now, when you rent a set-top box, you have to do it through the provider. The FCC seeks to open that up, allowing rentals from others, which would take millions away from television providers. Comcast’s move makes set-top boxes less essential, possibly preempting any final decision.
Comcast and others in the industry aren’t too thrilled at the FCC proposal, calling it illegal and unconstitutional. The FCC has countered, saying that the move will provide more competition and used the TV Partner Program as an example of why their proposal is a good idea. Even President Obama weighed in with support.
It’s likely that the FCC debate will continue on for some time. Clearly, Comcast isn’t waiting around. There will certainly be challenges ahead, but its proactive approach suggests that Comcast is well-prepared.