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Comcast's Periscope-Like App Shouldn't Threaten Twitter

By Sam Mattera - Sep 10, 2015 at 2:25PM

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Xfinity Share gives subscribers the ability to broadcast video to Comcast cable boxes.

Xfinity Share, which received a limited release earlier this year, is now open to all Comcast (CMCSA 2.32%) customers. All Xfinity subscribers -- Internet, TV, phone, and home -- can use their smartphones to stream live video directly to the televisions of Comcast subscribers. 

Although Xfinity Share is similar to Twitter's (TWTR 2.49%) Periscope app, it shouldn't provide much direct competition.

Another X1 perk
Xfinity Share requires an Xfinity account to use. Once you log in, you can begin recording live video from your smartphone and beam it to the smartphones of other Xfinity Share users.

In that sense, it resembles Twitter's Periscope, the live streaming app the social network launched back in March. Periscope, however, is open to anyone. All you need is a Twitter account.

Where Xfinity Share becomes more interesting is in its ability to send live video to a television. Comcast TV subscribers can view Xfinity Share streams on their TV, directly through their cable box. Twitter's Periscope, on the other hand, does not offer this feature. Currently, Periscope videos must be viewed on a PC, Android, or iOS device.

Admittedly, there are workarounds (screen mirroring an iPhone using the Apple TV, for example) but they are not nearly as straightforward as Xfinity Share. Entering the email address of a fellow Comcast subscriber prompts them to begin viewing your video on their television. From there, they simply press one button on their remote and the broadcast begins.

Xfinity Share is a unique perk that could help the company curtail the prevalence of cord-cutting, and might help it win over paid-TV subscribers in markets where it competes with other firms and satellite companies. Comcast Internet subscribers can use the smartphone app, but in order to watch broadcasts on their television, they'll need Comcast's latest X1 set-top box (and, by extension, an active paid-TV subscription with Comcast).

Xfinity Share isn't the only X1 perk Comcast has announced in recent weeks. This summer, it launched Xfinity Games, a cloud-based streaming video game service that allows X1 owners the opportunity to play video games on their TV without an expensive console.

Comcast has been losing paid-TV subscribers for years, and it now has more Internet customers than paid-TV ones. In the second quarter, Comcast lost 69,000 video subscribers. Still, that was the best second quarter for Comcast's video business in nine years. Comcast executives cited the X1 platform as a key reason for its improving video prospects.

The X1 set-top box has attracted the interest of other cable providers, including Cox and Shaw. Comcast is willing to license its platform out, which could benefit its business in future quarters.

Open to everyone
Still, even if it's massively popular with all of Comcast's customers, Xfinity Share is unlikely to weigh on Periscope. It's simply too proprietary.

In total, Comcast has just over 27 million Xfinity customers, all of whom are located in the United States. Twitter has over ten times as many monthly active users (316 million). Periscope, in particular, already has 10 million accounts. 

Although they offer similar functionality, Twitter and Xfinity Share could coexist, catering to different markets.

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