Comcast To Launch ‘Movie Night’ App For X1 In 2014

What started as a project born out of a social media “hackathon” at Comcast's Silicon Valley facility designed to help families collaboratively select a movie from the MSO's vast VOD library for set-top boxes will soon become an app that will grace the MSO’s IP-capable X1 platform.

That app, called “Movie Night,” is currently being tested internally and is expected to launch broadly sometime in the first quarter of 2014, said Justin Miller, general manager, Comcast Silicon Valley.

Comcast demonstrated Movie Night during an Imagine Park session at The Cable Show in June. At the time, Comcast EVP and CTO Tony Werner said it was likely that Movie Night would eventually be added to the X1 app lineup.

Set up as a communal movie-picking game, Movie Night is an HTML app that runs on X1 boxes and mobile devices.

Using a shared code to set up a Movie Night session, members of the family use their mobile devices to answer questions about what kind of movie they’re in the mood for, and the app uses that data to select movies from Comcast’s VOD vault that should be of interest to the group. Once a movie choice has been finalized, the Movie Night app then fires up the VOD stream and ships it to the X1-powered set-top.

“This is leveraging the fact that the X1 platform enables HTML on the TV; that’s what gives it the multiscreen experience,” Miller explained.

Also of recent note, Comcast’s Silicon Valley outfit had a big hand in Family Point, (opens in new tab) an app for iOS and Android devices that helps families stay in communication via a shared calendar and messaging (voice and text) platform, as well as an option for geo-location sharing. Miller said a future version of the app will add voice mail notifications and the ability to receive alerts from Comcast’s home security and home automation service.

Miller said Comcast Silicon Valley, which is now home to about 250 engineers, remains focused on developing new products internally, but has recently “shifted our charter” to also cultivate partnerships with third parties that can develop apps and services for the IP-capable X1 platform, which currently supports apps developed in-house as well as from outside companies such as Pandora and Facebook.

Comcast held an open house at its Silicon Valley Innovation Center earlier this month to christen its recent expansion and to strengthen its connection with the tech-savvy region.

“It’s important to us to get out there and to start talking with other companies that have a lot to add to the ecosystem,” said Miller, who joined Comcast more than four years ago, initially to run Plaxo, the social contact service that the operator acquired in 2008. “A big part [of the event] was to showcase the work we’ve been doing and to get the word out that we are looking for more partners.”

Much more about the growth and aims of Comcast’s Silicon Valley Innovation Center will be covered in the December 23 issue of Multichannel News.