Xfinity TV Player offers on-demand streaming for Comcast customers – is it good enough to forget Hulu Plus?
June 6, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
The Xfinity TV Player app recently arrived on Android, allowing Comcast Xfinity subscribers to get free, on-demand viewing of popular TV programs streamed live to their mobile devices. That made me wonder how this new app stands up against the other services that have come before it. (Obviously, this comparison only matters if you are an Xfinity customer.)
Netflix remains the King of the Hill for streaming in terms of the size of its library, but its content is many months or years old. Xfinity is designed to catch users up on newer or more recent television episodes, so there’s only one fair competitor to pit against this new app – Hulu, or more accurately, Hulu Plus.
Hulu Plus has been on Android for a long time, but there are considerable gripes with the app. It was only a few months ago that the app finally supported Android tablets, yet it somehow managed to leave out the Samsung Galaxy Tab 10.1, the most successful proper Android tablet to date. Xfinity worked well on two phones from Samsung and HTC, and two Samsung and Toshiba tablets at my disposal. Advantage Xfinity.
Xfinity TV Player provides on demand streaming for several popular networks, including BBC America, Cartoon Network, CNN, ESPN, NBC, TBS, TNT, HBO, Starz, and Cinemax (subscription required for premium channels) and more. Sadly, “and more” doesn’t include ABC, CBS, or Fox, three of the major network television stations that people most want to see. Xfinity provides plenty of options, as well as a limited number of syndicated shows and movies, but the lack of 3 of the 4 networks leaves a lot to be desired. Another point of disappointment is that season listings are out of chronological order and incomplete because of limited availability. Even with this premium content that’s arguably better depending on who you are, there are so many more popular options ad organization in Hulu+ that it gets the advantage.
At the moment, I’d say Hulu Plus wins for having more current episodes and a larger back catalogue for shows. However, Xfinity TV Player is a capable alternative for people who watch most of their programming on NBC or cable television. There are plenty of choices, it supports most devices running Android 2.3 or higher, and is free for current Comcast subscribers. I’m a huge critic of Comcast (I’m a very disgruntled subscriber) but I have to give them credit for producing a decent app that could use some sprucing up. I don’t think it’s a better service than Hulu, but I’d recommend giving this a try because it may good enough to meet your mobile on demand needs.
Strangely, Jimmy Kimmel is listed in the Google Play thumbnails despite not being available in the app (at least not in my version of the app. Comcast Miami subscriber)