July 16, 2024

Comcast to Offer Customers Skype Video Calls on Their TVs

Comcast will conduct a trial of the Skype service this year and make it widely available to its customers sometime next year. The companies said the Skype-on-TV feature was part of a “strategic partnership,” but did not share further details or pricing information.

New features like video chatting and on-screen apps are expected to be talked about at the cable industry’s annual conference in Chicago this week.

For Comcast, the deal is a way to stay current with viewers’ behavior as they use their TV sets for much more than passive TV watching. For Skype, the deal is a foothold in the millions of homes that are served by Comcast, the nation’s largest cable provider. Skype and Microsoft, which said last month it had agreed to acquire Skype, are said to be interested in further expanding Skype’s presence in homes.

“By combining Comcast’s broad living room reach with Skype’s innovative communications platform and worldwide community of users, we can bring video calling into the heart of the home, allowing people to share life’s experiences both big and small,” Tony Bates, the chief executive of Skype, said in a statement.

Many cable companies have promoted digital phone call functionality and features that show caller ID information on the TV screen. But the Comcast-Skype deal is one of the first forays into video calls. For customers with Comcast’s phone service, their address books could potentially be moved into the Skype-on-TV service.

In a nod to the viewers who might want to chat while they watch TV, Comcast customers would be able to make Skype calls and send instant messages while watching TV. Cable companies like Comcast have been trying to figure out how to make it easier to chat while watching shows.

Comcast will provide a video camera to Skype-on-TV customers, but it will not be necessary to use that camera.

Skype is already embedded in some state-of-the-art television sets. The company says it will also be possible to switch Skype conversations from one screen, like a cellphone, to another screen, like a television or tablet computer.

Article source: http://feeds.nytimes.com/click.phdo?i=4c3abf68633ebcdbf885c79a05d6e9f6

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