The cable television and media giant, Comcast Corp, announced on Thursday that they will be providing all their internet-only subscribers with a free streaming box. The box, known as Flex, will compete with streaming industry stalwarts Roku, Amazon Fire Stick, and Google’s Chromecast products.
The move is aimed at providing access to Comcast and their vast content library to a wider audience of viewers as the company has consistently lost cable TV subscribers. The Wall Street Journal reported that Comcast as well as Verizon Fios, and their other cable competitors have lost TV customers who are “cutting the cord” in favor of getting their content from streaming only services such as Netflix, Hulu, or YouTube.
The report continues that Comcast has lost subscribers for nine consecutive quarters. The move to provide the Flex streaming box comes one day after Comcast announced the launch of their own streaming platform called Peacock, after the iconic NBC logo. The application will be provided free of cost to all current Comcast Xfinity television subscribers to bolster their content offerings.
The Peacock streaming application will most likely be offered to non-Comcast TV subscribers for some sort of fee-based structure. The announcement was not clear on whether the Peacock application would be free of charge for Comcast internet subscribers. It will launch in April 2020.
The Flex streaming box is also looking to compete with DirecTV Now and that streaming service that leads the way in some consumer reports. The point of difference for the Flex box is that Comcast used the voice control technology that won Emmy awards in their X1 remote from the Xfinity platform.
The interface of the streaming box is also similar to the menus on the X1 platform. The move is set to have Comcast become a new player in a crowded landscape. The way of the future in home entertainment is the streaming services and clearly is also the development of a streaming application to control their exclusive content.
The other development in the space is the launch of the Disney+ in November and the loads of new content and older content that is sought after, that is added daily. The company announced some reboots of former series and the launch of a new Star Wars themed series, that is fueling anticipation for this upcoming launch.
Facebook will not be left out of the mix, the social media giant announced a new version of the Portal that has the ability to stream television and other digital media content. The product will build from the success of the first version.
The announcement by Comcast is just the latest in a series of trends that consumers can expect other media companies following suit as they try to stay in the game of providing video services (as it is now known). The anticipation is that Verizon Fios will announce a similar technology as well as Optimum and some other major regional cable companies as the pendulum swings sharply toward streaming content over the internet.
The Flex box couple with the Peacock application represent the latest methods used by Comcast to stay relevant in a rapidly changing media environment. The months ahead will prove whether it was a sound investment.
(Some background info courtesy of Wall Street Journal)