Cable behemoth Comcast is trying to get its slice of the streaming video pie, it seems. Last Thursday, Comcast announced the launch of Xfinity Flex, a streaming video on demand service for the company’s internet-only customers. Effective yesterday, for $5 a month in addition to the cost of their internet service, Xfinity internet-only customers can use their TV and a Comcast voice remote to manage all their connected devices at home and access all – or most of – their streaming video experiences in one place. Comcast is essentially turning customers’ televisions into dashboards for accessing entertainment and other digital devices in the home.
“Xfinity Flex will deepen our relationship with a certain segment of our internet customers and provide them with real value,” said Matt Strauss, Executive Vice President, Xfinity Services in a March 21 news release. “For just $5 a month, we can offer these customers an affordable, flexible and differentiated platform that includes thousands of free movies and shows for online streaming, an integrated guide for accessing their favorite apps and connected home devices, and the ease of navigating and managing all of it with our voice remote.”
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Here are a few of the key features of Xfinity Flex:
– Access to more than 10,000 free online movies and TV shows including live streaming TV from ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto TV, Tubi TV, Cheddar and YouTube. Some of these services like Xumo and Tubi are ad-supported.
– Access to streaming apps including Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, HBO and Showtime
– Rent and purchase movies and shows from a digital store.
– Listen to music from Pandora, iHeartRadio and XITE.
– Ability to see connected devices, set parental controls and pause WiFi access
– Ability to use voice control to access Xfinity camera feeds, arm or disarm their Xfinity home security system, and find their Xfinity mobile phone
But wait there’s more. Coming soon, Xfinity Flex customers will also be able to upgrade to the full Xfinity X1 cable experience from within the Flex dashboard. This additional service comes with an additional price tag, of course, but customers will also receive hundreds of live channels, thousands of on demand TV shows and movies and a cloud DVR for that additional cash.
Xfinity Flex also comes with an HD and 4K-capable wireless set-top device and Comcast’s X1 voice remote. For Flex customers who want additional services, they will be able to control home connected devices like lights and thermostats through the Flex interface.
In the interest of full disclosure, I am a reluctant Comcast Xfinity customer. I say reluctant because I have a love-hate relationship with the company and its services. When the services are working, I love them. When they aren’t, well, you get the gist. That said, this sounds like a great package for cord cutters and cord nevers who want to be able to access most, if not all, of their streaming services in one place from a single dashboard. The price tag is more than reasonable, and this provides a gateway for Comcast to perhaps woo a new audience.
We anticipate some bugs – technology will have to be compatible and customer service and set-up will need to be seamless to attract and keep customers – but this might be a good tool for Comcast to bridge the divide between folks who do not want a cable subscription but do want an easier way to access their streaming services. Even if it is self-serving for Comcast, the service will be mutually beneficial if well-executed.