CES: Samsung Partners With MSOs For Smart TVs

In an important development in the multiplatform strategies of major cable operators, Samsung has announced a wide ranging partnership with Comcast and Time Warner Cable at this year's Consumer Electronics Show. The alliance will closely integrate Samsung TV, tablets and smart phones into the MSOs cable systems and enable cable subscribers to more easily watch content and to search for content on a variety of devices.

The deal is notable because there has been a great deal of speculation that smart TVs and devices connected to the Internet would undermine the traditional TV business. With this alliance, two of the country's largest operators have embraced connected TV, tablets and smart phones as a way to enhance the value of their subscription products.

In announcing the alliances during a keynote address at CES, Samsung Visual Display President Boo-Keun Yoon noted that it was part of the company's strategy to make is easy for consumers to access content anywhere, anytime on their devices but that they realized they couldn't do it all themselves.

"To make this a reality....we have decided to take a collaborative path to work with leading companies in each sector," he explained, before introducing Comcast Chairman and CEO Brian Roberts and Time Warner Cable Chairman and CEO Glenn Britt, who demonstrated how their cable systems would work Samsung devices into their subscription offerings.

Building on their project Xfinity, launched three years ago at CES, that was designed to allow consumers to access all content on all devices, Roberts announced that Comcast, for the first time, would make Xfinity TV service available on the Samsung connected TV later this year.

The app would provide a rich, Web-like interface, enabling simpler navigation and the ability to search across linear TV, DVR recordings, and video on demand among tens of thousands of content choices.

Roberts also demonstrated how the partnership would deliver an integrated multi-platform viewing experience on Samsung smart TVs and the Android-powered Samsung Galaxy Tab. 

Using the tablet, Xfinity TV digital customers would be able to watch TV programming and movies on the tablet, browse for video content, change the channel on a Samsung smart TV and program DVRs. 

Ultimately, the service would allow consumers to start watching a movie on the tablet and then resume watching it on a Samsung smart TV where it was paused.

"Smart TVs are a really important part of Comcast Xfinity and our plans to provide a fantastic next generation experience," Roberts said. He added that tablets and smart TVs are "radically changing how customers interact with TV and making it easy to access the entertainment they want anytime, anywhere."

On Time Warner Cable systems, owners of Samsung TVs will be able to access live and on demand TV with a full program guide on the Samsung Smart TVs and Samsung Galaxy Tab, Britt noted during the demonstration.  

In addition to watching live TV on the Smart TV and Tab, Britt also demonstrated how Time Warner Cable customers could access recorded content from a DVR elsewhere in the home directly on the Samsung Smart TV, without the need for a connected set-top box, creating a multi-room experience in homes that had more than one connected TV.

Britt also noted that subscribers could use the Samsung Galaxy Tab to search through content and use the tablet to change channels or start on demand programming.

Also during the keynote, Samsung announced an alliance with Hulu that will make its Hulu Plus to the Samsung Smart TV and partnerships with DreamWorks animation for 3D and with Adobe.

The partnership with Adobe will bring AIR and Flash to the Samsung smart TVs and devices, which the company hopes will encourage developers to create more apps for the products. Flash already has some 3 million developers worldwide.