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Comcast Lets X1 Subscribers Stream Live Video to Set-Tops Using WebRTC

May 05, 2015

It is always nice to be a first at anything, especially when it comes to the commercialization of what many have called “game-changing” technology. For those of us in the WebRTC Solutions Community firsts are a great thing, true game-changer or not. It is why a posting by Franklyn Athias, Senior Vice President, Comcast IP Communications Services about the launch of Xfinity Share app is a grabber.

Xfinity Share is a new service that lets Xfinity users live stream videos over the Internet from their phones directly to X1-enabled televisions—in short, from browser to big screen seamlessly.  And, while this capability has been around in various guises including the likes of Chromecast and apps for smart TVs, Xfinity Share is the first to be based on WebRTC.

Source: Comcast

You read correctly. It uses WebRTC. In fact, Athias goes into a nice justification of why WebRTC. As he explains:

We built Xfinity Share using WebRTC, an open-standard framework that supports streaming on mobile devices and Web browsers. We chose WebRTC because it is scalable, flexible and interoperable, allowing us to evolve Xfinity Share quickly and to serve users across the broadest possible range of devices and platforms.

While WebRTC-enabled tools have proliferated online in recent months, Xfinity Share is the first technology that brings a robust WebRTC-enabled streaming experience to the television screen.

This was important for us, because while the technology underpinning WebRTC may be cutting edge, it has the potential to be useful to just about anyone, including people who may be more comfortable navigating their televisions than they are downloading Internet applications.

We’re proud to be the first major television provider to provide a full-featured WebRTC service for the television, and we look forward to expanding Xfinity Share to support even richer streaming experiences in the coming months.   

It would be hard to find a better endorsement for WebRTC.

More WebRTC enabled functionality on the way

Features to be added to Share that Athias said would be coming soon include the ability to:

  • Share content with virtually anyone by sending a URL via email
  • Send content to up to five people at the same time
  • Stop, pause and rewind the live stream
  • Store the live stream in the X1 Photos App

In addition, any photos or recorded videos sent from Xfinity Share are stored in and accessible via the X1 Photos App. Customers can shut off share notifications in the Photos app as well.

While we are still not quite at the mass adoption of TV Everywhere, or for that matter WebRTC everywhere, this is an instance where the trend is the community friend.  There are of course a few little caveats to keep in mind.

To use Xfinity Share, currently both the sender and receiver must be Xfinity Triple Play customers with X1 DVR capable set-top boxes. To stream to the TV, users just need to open the Xfinity Share app, select "Stream Live" and accept the notification that appears on the TV.  The Xfinity Share app is available to download for free from the Apple Store for iOS devices or from Google Play for Android devices. 

This announcement comes on the heels a few days ago of Comcast giving X1 users the ability to use their new Apple Watch, assuming you are one of the fortunate to have gotten one already, an app that will enable them to use their new wristware as a remote control with several basic functions via the Xfinity TV app. Now if Apple would only become WebRTC friendly and let WebRTC really become useful everywhere there is an Internet connection.

Want to learn more about the latest in WebRTC? Be sure to attend WebRTC Conference & Expo, May12 – 14 in Miami, Florida. Stay in touch with everything happening at the event -- follow us on Twitter.

Edited by Dominick Sorrentino

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