Comcast nears deal to stream EA games to TVs

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LOS ANGELES/SAN FRANCISCO – Comcast Corp may soon allow customers using its cloud-connected X1 cable box system to buy from Electronic Arts Inc their televisions, according to five sources briefed on .

Such a partnership would come as cable company seeks to protect its turf against a wave challengers.

After two years testing, Comcast and EA, are close to reaching an agreement to stream video such as “FIFA” and “Madden,” into living rooms some Comcast’s more-than 22 million customers across the , said the sources, who declined to speak publicly before a had been struck.

Comcast would make the available on X1, a video operating system with apps and an interface is considered the most sophisticated the cable industry, the sources said. It features Internet applications, viewing recommendations and voice control.

If the agreement goes , it would mark the boldest step yet by a cable company to muscle into the territory leading video-game console manufacturers such as Sony Corp and Microsoft Corp.

Comcast has been beefing its x1 system with features to potential customer defections to rival video streaming systems such as TV and Inc’s FireTV, which was launched just last month with a slew of games.

TV allows users to stream games from their iOS phones and tablets to TV sets, and developers expect to bring gaming directly to its streaming box. FireTV was released with over 100 free and paid games from the likes of Disney and Electronic Arts.

Comcast and EA’s aim is to make buying games as easy as ordering a pay-per-view movie, sources said. This could create a distribution model circumvents console and video-streaming device makers.

EA and Comcast, which is awaiting regulatory approval for its $45 billion proposal to buy Time Warner Cable Inc, declined to comment.

The TWC , which would make Comcast the country’s largest cable provider, highlights Comcast’s desire to thwart the fresh challenge from the video and entertainment upstarts.


For Electronic Arts, a with Comcast could represent an important new revenue opportunity.

The video game industry has yet to see a sustained recovery sagging software sales despite robust hardware sales driven by the November launches of Microsoft’s Xbox One and Sony’s PlayStation 4 consoles.

January, Redwood City, California-based EA lowered its 2015 revenue forecast – prompted by the sooner-than-expected drop sales of games for older consoles after the release of the new devices.

the agreement now being hashed out with Electronic Arts, Comcast will offer action, sports and casual titles from EA’s portfolio, including potential titles such as “FIFA,” “Madden,” “Monopoly” and “Plants vs. Zombies,” the people said. The game offerings have been finalized.

Customers will be able to turn their tablets into controllers to play the games. Revenue share terms and the exact release date have been decided.

Comcast has been bulking the capabilities of its X1 service, which can store content on the cloud, and experimenting with new ways to reach viewers.

Last fall, it started selling movies for download and streaming its set-top boxes and XFINITY TV website, which created a new path for Hollywood studios to generate revenue from films after their theater run ends.

While Comcast added video subscribers for the past two quarters, after years of losses, it is facing increasing competition for viewership, both online and through streaming boxes. The Xbox and PlayStation, for instance, are now marketed as living room entertainment hubs offer more than just games.

Microsoft and Sony have added media features to their consoles over the past two years like original programming, online video and TV apps — including Comcast’s XFINITY on-demand service. But cable companies so far have been able to load their set-top boxes with the technology to support gaming.

Comcast will focus on casual and family games at first and consider offering other first-person shooter and action games later based on user preferences, the sources told Reuters. (Reuters)