The Cloud, Xcalibur, Social Media and the Future of Film

When the CEO of Comcast is the guy telling you that the future of film is in the cloud - it's probably time to pay attention.

In a June 16th, 2011 blogpost, Ryan Lawler recapped Brian Robert's announcement of Comcast's next generation user interface - Xcalibur. At it's heart, the new Xcalibur service (currently being tested by Comcast subscribers in Augusta, GA) is a cloud-based platform that delivers TV and on-demand feeds - but moves the intelligence out of the set-top box and into the network - with the potential for integrating the power of social media to build awareness and engagement.

Comcast’s basic strategy with Xcalibur is to eliminate cable boxes and to provide a simple user interface (available across multiple screens and devices within and outside of the homes) where users can find and watch motion picture content from the cloud on any device.

What should be of special interest to anyone struggling to market a film is that Xcalibur has the potential to include the viral recommendation features of Facebook and Twitter (e.g., sharing what the user is watching and seeing what their friends and other opinion leaders like) as part of the experience. The move toward streaming services that integrate recommendations and sharing is already a part of the Facebook strategy with music (see the June 19th, 2011 blogpost on by Om Malik): Can a world where every film is available online, and your choice about which film to watch depends on what is trending or what your friends are watching, be that far behind?

Even if you're watching at home alone, selecting what film to watch and participating in film culture (from TMZ to Cahiers du Cinema) is an inherently social activity. Motion picture content is just one part of the equation. Netflix became a major new player because they integrated the delivery of motion pictures with one type of social interaction (recommendations). I predict that the next big fortune in motion pictures will be built by the team that successfully blends social media and motion picture delivery into one seamless experience.

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