(CMCSA) Comcast Brings Skype on TV

Yesterday, Comcast Corp. (CMCSA) announced a pathbreaking value-added service to its customers. The company has formed a strategic partnership with Skype Ltd. to offer its subscribers high-definition (HD) video chat from their TV sets. Comcast will provide a special kit including Skype software, an HD video camera, an adaptor box, and a remote control with keyboard. Using these accessories, a Comcast subscriber will be able to make or receive video or audio calls and text messages with other Skype user or any Skype-compatible devices, such as PCs, smartphones and tablets.

Comcast customers will be able to make Skype calls and instant messages while watching TV. Subscribers can import their friends list from Facebook, Outlook, Gmail, and smartphone contract list to their respective Comcast address book. They can find these names on Skype software and see online and availability status.

The TV video calling service will generate a new monthly revenue stream for Comcast whereas Skype will now be able to reach more than 17.4 million broadband subscribers of Comcast. The company is yet to disclose the pricing of the new service as well as its financial terms of agreement with Skype. Comcast will start trial run of this innovative video chat service within the next couple of months and will make it widely available to its customers from early 2012. Meanwhile, in the previous month, Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has decided to acquire Skype for approximately $8.5 billion.

Cable industry is facing sever competitive pressure from online video streaming companies such as Netflix Inc. (NFLX), Hulu, uTube and are gradually losing video customers. Comcast, the largest cable MSO of the U.S., is trying hard to minimize cord-cutting by offering several value-added services. Comcast is now making most of its cable contents available on Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPAD through its Xfinity TVEverywhere service that offers video on demand facility.

We believe collaboration with Skype will place Comcast head on with Cisco System Inc.’s (CSCO) home videoconferencing platform. Cisco already formed a deal to offer TV-based consumer telepresence with FiOS network of Verizon Wireless (VZ).

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