At the NCTA Conference in Chicago, Roberts characterized the demonstration as the next generation of Xfinity, the company's hybrid cable-based video/phone/data service. The company launched it two years ago as "Project Infinity".
First, however, Roberts showed off the future of the Comcast interface.
"What I want to show you today is not the future, but right here, right now," Roberts said, showing off the "Xcalibur" interface that is currently in trials in Augusta, Georgia.
Xcalibur is based on cloud computing - not clpoud storage, but cloud-computing. The guide actually resides in the cloud, Roberts said. Users can see a traditional channel view, or view programs by genre or for different users. An On Demand view also uses a similar format. The Xcalibur's new remote also uses RF technology, which is not limited by line of sight. Users can also type in "HBO" using numbers - like a phone number - and pulls in additional information via the cloud.
Cable executives on Tuesday downplayed the impact of Netflix on their businesses, arguing that it is simply another provider in a crowded market, though they were forced to acknowledge that consumers are no longer satisfied with just a cable box and a remote.
Execs from Time Warner, Viacom, Comcast, Cox, and News Corp. sat down this morning for a panel discussion at The Cable Show in Chicago. When asked about Netflix's recent decision to air original content, Philippe Dauman, president and CEO at Viacom, warned that "it's not easy to get into the content business; it's a tough exercise."
"That's not really their fundamental business," Dauman said of Netflix. Viacom, on the other hand, is "100 percent focused on content," he said. Netflix is just one cog in the content wheel, he said, pointing to the "incremental money" Viacom has made by repurposing its older shows, like "Beavis and Butthead," on Web-based services like Netflix.