Comcast Dropping ‘AnyPlay’

Comcast is discontinuing AnyPlay, a specialized video encoding device that delivers live TV to iOS and Android devices over the subscriber’s home network, on March 31.

Comcast developed the single-stream AnyPlay device in partnership with Motorola Home, a unit now part of Arris Group that had marketed the product under the Televation brand.

AnyPlay, which essentially amounted to a headless CableCARD set-top with on-board Wi-Fi and QAM-to-IP video transcoding capabilities, allowed Comcast customers to stream their full linear TV lineups to iOS and Android-powered tablets and smartphones over the home wireless network. AnyPlay did not support the Xfinity On Demand service, and limited access to the customer’s home network. Sources familiar with the project have said AnyPlay/Televation could enable out-of-home TV streaming with a firmware update, but that potential option apparently was not pursued.

The original concept behind the AnyPlay apparently became obsolete in the presence of other video streaming options available to Comcast customers.

“Since launching the AnyPlay in 2012 we have developed new, innovative technologies that provide customers with more choices and flexibility for streaming live and On Demadn programming without the need for additional equipment,” Comcast said on its AnyPlay app page for both Android and Apple iOS. (opens in new tab)

“Please download XFINITY TV Go,” Comcast added, in reference to a recently rebranded and upgraded version of its TV Everywhere app that now offers a subset of live TV channels both in and out of the home, as well as access to a library of VOD content. 

Comcast is also nearing the launch of Xfinity TV, an in-home mobile app that will turn mobile devices into personalized TVs when they are paired with the MSO’s X1 platform. Comcast is testing that app, which delivers the full linear TV lineup, plus VOD and access to DVR recordings, in Boston. It’s expected to launch it in select markets later this month. 

Comcast is also working with vendors such as Arris on a new class of headless gateways equipped with multiple tuners and integrated transcoders that will feature the capabilities offered by the single-purpose AnyPlay device.

Comcast has not revealed how many customers use the AnyPlay, which it leased out for $10 per month, and declined to comment beyond what was posted on the AnyPlay app pages. It also was not clear how the decision to discontinue the product would affect current AnyPlay customers, and if those customers would be able to continue using the devices or if they were expected to return them to Comcast. 

Comcast has used the AnyPlay in some promotional offers during the device's lifespan. In the fall of 2012, for example, it offered the AnyPlay device for free for 12 months to customers who purchased qualifying bundles that tied in services from Comcast and Verizon Wireless. At times, Comcast also offered AnyPlay for free for a year to new triple-play customers.

Hints of the demise of the AnyPlay were evident The Cable Show in Washington, D.C., last June. During a briefing with reporters and analysts, John Burke, a Motorola exec who stayed on with Arris until late last year, acknowledged that Comcast had no future plans for the Televation/AnyPlay hardware.

Arris "will continue to support Comcast's current base of AnyPlay customers, while we remain focused on driving the next wave of industry advancements (such as the XG1, for example) to support evolving and next-gen content experiences," an Arris spokeswoman said, in a statement.