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Olympics

Preston Smalley on Bringing Sochi's Live Streams to the Largest Screen in the House

Comcast and NBCUniversal are delivering an unparalleled Olympic experience to customers during the Sochi games. We caught up with Preston Smalley at Comcast's Silicon Valley Innovation Center to find out more about what's in store for X1 users during the Winter Games.

What is the NBC Sports Live Extra app? How have Xfinity TV Olympic viewers been able to use it in the past?

Preston Smalley: The NBC Sports Live Extra app is a service that allows Xfinity customers to watch coverage of live sporting events on their mobile device or via NBCOlympics.com. Viewers had unprecedented access to thousands of hours of live events during the 2012 London Olympic Games making it the most watched event in TV history. Previously, the NBC Sports Live Extra app enabled users to view content both online and on mobile devices.

How did the idea come about to bring this content to the TV?

Preston Smalley: One of the reasons the mobile and web versions of the Live Extra app were so popular during the London Olympics is it puts the viewer in control of what they want to watch and when they want to watch it. While the NBC’s primetime broadcast each evening will continue to be the most popular way to watch the Olympic Games, we thought we should bring the best of the mobile Live Extra experience to the biggest screen in the home. Now, for the first time, Comcast is bringing the NBC Sports Live Extra app to the television.

How did you do it?

Preston Smalley: Comcast's next generation X1 platform has a number of new capabilities including the fact that it’s fully Internet connected. Therefore, our Comcast Silicon Valley team was able to work directly with NBC Sports to build a web app built on HTML5 and powered by the same video streaming used by the other Live Extra platforms. All together, this represents the first time the NBC Sports Live Extra app is part of the TV viewing experience, and we're proud to have helped make that possible for the 2014 Olympic Games. Xfinity TV customers will be the first to access the NBC Sports Live Extra app on the TV.

How is Comcast uniquely positioned to bring these, and other next-generation viewing experiences, to its customers?

Preston Smalley: Comcast's investment in the X1 platform puts it in a terrific place to enable rich and interactive experiences like this one. With it’s cloud-based infrastructure, we can update and deploy new features over the Internet in real time, and continue to enhance the customer experience. As viewers anxiously await Opening Ceremonies for the Sochi Winter Olympics, what should they know to ensure they catch every minute, every medal, on every screen?

What other features and content are available to Xfinity TV customers, , before, during, and after the Olympics?

Preston Smalley: Before the Games, customers can get ready by signing-in to the NBC Sports Live Extra app on mobile devices and NBCOlympics.com in advance for out-of-home viewing. In home, Xfinity TV and Internet customers will be automatically signed-in. The NBC Sports Live Extra app will provide live broadcasts of every event as they happen. In addition to smartphones, tablets, laptops and computers, X1 customers will be able to access the app directly on the TV (go to http://stream.nbcsports.com/liveextra/ for more info). The X1 Sports app, which shows you all upcoming major sporting events (e.g. NFL, NBC), will be enhanced during the Olympics to showcase all the TV coverage across the NBCUniversal networks (NBC, NBC Sports Network, MSNBC, CNBC, and USA).

Finally, XfinityTV customers will have an unprecedented amount of replays and highlights available on Xfinity On Demand. Is this a sign of more apps on the X1 platform in the future?

Preston Smalley: We’ve always planned to grow our collection of apps on the X1 platform over time, but don’t have specific plans for future partners and timing. Making the NBC Sports Live Extra app available on X1 during the Olympics represents the perfect opportunity to test consumer interest for more Internet apps on the platform.

Who/What is your favorite athlete/event you are most looking forward to during the Sochi Olympics?

Preston Smalley: Growing up I was able to travel to the Calgary Games in 1988 and I remember being amazed at the speed and agility of the downhill skiers. To be able to maintain that kind of speed and stay in control around the flags is something that today, as a recreational skier, I'm just blown away by.

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