Comcast wants to turn TV sets into dashboards for the home
Comcast is introducing a streaming platform targeting its internet-only consumers.
Xfinity Flex, which will cost $5 per month, will give users access to 10,000 free, ad-supported TV shows and movies, as well as live streaming TV from services such as ESPN3, Xumo, Pluto, Tubi TV, YouTube and Cheddar, among others.
Of course, these are all services consumers can access for free on their own or access by purchasing a Roku box, for example. But the selling point, according Matt Strauss, exec VP, Xfinity Services, Comcast Cable, is the experience. "We see this as more than just a piece of hardware, we are looking at this as a service," he said on a call with press on Thursday.
Flex comes with a 4K box and voice-activated remote and allows customers to access services they pay for, like Netflix, Amazon Prime, HBO and Showtime, in a personalized dashboard. Users can rent and purchase movies from the digital store and listen to music from the likes of Pandora and iHeartRadio.
But the platform, which will be available starting next week, is designed to be more than just a video service. "We see TV as more than just a conduit for video," Strauss said. Comcast is looking to turn the TV into a dashboard for the home, where users can aggregate other types of media, like music, and control other connected devices such as smart thermostats and cameras.
The goal, ultimately, is to get to a point where customers "never want to turn off their TV," Strauss said, adding that the living room screen could one day act like a smartphone in this way.
Flex will be limited to customers in the Comcast footprint.
Xfinity Flex users will also have the ability to upgrade to Comcast's full X1 cable service from the guide.