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Comcast Ramps Up ‘X2’ Rollout

Comcast confirmed that the migration to the next-generation of its cloud-based X1 video interface will begin to accelerate Tuesday (February 4), when all new X1 customers get the upgraded guide by default.

Comcast began to offer the next-gen UI, which carries the “X2” label internally, to a small batch of customers late last year. The new guide will present a more feature-laden, personalized version of the original X1 interface. In addition to running on TV-connected set-tops and gateways, much of the functionality and look and feel will also be extended to mobile devices, including smartphones, PCs and tablets.  

Current X1 customers will have the option to continue using the legacy version of the X1 guide for an unannounced period of time before they will be cut over to the new version permanently, though it’s expected to happen in the “coming months,” an MSO spokesperson said.

But once X1 customers upgrade to the new guide, they will not be able to toggle back to the older version. Before this more formal migration plan took hold, Comcast had allowed X1 customers to toggle back and forth between the original X1 guide and a “preview” version of X2 that would come up when customers input a special code into their remote controls.

Some of those policies, including instructions on how existing customers can upgrade to the new UI, are outlined in this recent X1-related customer support post, where Comcast is starting to refer to X2 as the “New Guide on the X1 Platform.”

Comcast has historically targeted X1 primarily to new triple-play customers, but is also allowing existing triple-play subs, and double-play customers in select markets, to upgrade to the new platform.

Comcast kicked off X1 deployments by distributing “XG1” HD-DVRs made by U.K.-based set-top-maker Pace, but the MSO confirmed that it has also begun to roll out Arris-made models as well. Having an additional source of boxes should help Comcast to avoid the kind of supply shortage it fought through last fall.

Comcast announced last week that X1 now available across its footprint, but has not announced how many video subs are on the platform.

But the improved churn, increased VOD usage and general “double-digit returns” Comcast is seeing with X1 at this phase of the rollout has caused the operator to get more aggressive with its deployment of the platform.

Comcast intends to “reach the majority of our video customers over the next few years,” Comcast vice chairman and chief financial officer Michael Angelakis said last week during the MSO’s fourth quarter earnings call.

During Sunday's Super Bowl matchup between the Seattle Seahawks and the Denver Broncos, Comcast launched a newStar Trek-themed spot to promote the X1.